The following is a guest post from regular contributor, Sharon at Mom of 6.
I think it’s really important that kids regularly keep up with some sort of academic endeavors throughout the summer months, so that when they return to school in the fall, they will essentially be at the same level as when they left school in June and not have lost any of what they had learned throughout the entire school year. Which is why in our family I make a little time during the summer for reading, writing, and arithmetic (as the old song goes). But how to do it in a way that inspires kids? Or at least makes them willing participants?
Appeal to Their Love of Tech
Since four of my six kids have now saved up their own money and purchased an “iDevice” of some sort (iPad, iPad mini, or iTouch), and they each LOVE that device (in the same way that I used to covet TV as a kid!), why not take advantage of that enthusiasm and offer them a way to do meaningful academic review on their beloved device? A book read on an iPad using the Kindle app, is still a book! And math facts practiced on a fun math app is still a lesson learned (ore reviewed anyway)!
The best summer incentive plan that I have found, is to allow my kids to earn cold-hard-cash for their efforts. But rather than just paying them weekly as you might dole out an allowance, we like to add the money to envelopes that are specifically labeled for “vacation souvenirs”. I love doing this because it gives the kids “fun money” to use on whatever their hearts desire while on vacation (even if what they spend their money on makes me cringe!) and they earn it the right way- vs. having me just pay for souvenirs!
A great way to inspire kids to read throughout the summer is to head over to your local public library and see what types of activities they offer this time of year. Our library has book clubs for kids and young adults, and also publishes a summer reading list by grade level. Ours even holds a contest for kids to track the number of books they read over the summer, rewarding them with an ice cream social before school starts again. Partnering with your local children’s librarian will also help you to select books for kids that really keep their interest and make reading a fun and enjoyable thing to do. And many public libraries also allow you to download books onto your e-reader for free just as you would borrow a hard-copy book!
Writing this is the one area that my kids like to do the least over the summer, because none of them true truly love the art of writing. For my younger kids (ages 7-9) their writing assignment will take the form of keeping a journal. Once or twice a week, I am asking them to tell a story of something we did over the summer. They can add a picture (either by drawing one or gluing in a printed photo) and what I really want them to get out of this is to practice creating a paragraph of several sentences- one that introduces the topic, one that offers details, and one the gives a conclusion. If I can continue to hone their writing skills in this manner it will put them on good footing when they return to school, and it also allows them to practice their handwriting skills and spelling.
When it comes to my older kids (ages 9-12), I really want them to focus in on the art of editing their work. So I’m going to be showing them how to use the Dragon Dictation app on their iDevices to dictate longer stories, and how they can then edit those stories (after they’ve cut and pasted them into Evernote) for spelling, proper word usage, and to expand details so that they learn to become better writers through the editing process.
This summer we will once again be using one of my favorite math review websites called IXL. It does require a subscription to use, and last summer I purchased a three month membership for each of my kids- but this year, our school system began using IXL for homework, so my kids can continue to use their school-based membership all summer long. Another fun match website that we use (but it is much more “game-based”) is Cool Math Games.
Do you plan to have your kids engage in a little academic activities during the summer? If so what tools, apps, software, workbooks do you intend to use? please leave a comment and share your game plan with us!
If you get a chance, I hope you’ll stop by to see me at Momof6 – a place where I write about organizing your home, using a family calendar, creating household routines, hosting at-home birthday parties, and holding a DIY summer camp! You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter (@sharonmomof6), and Pinterest!