Summer Break usually starts off with excitement for everyone, as that spring weather gets a little warmer each day—offering perfect opportunities to cool down in the backyard with a water hose or take a trip to the beach and a break from rigorous homework and responsibilities…
But by now, the heat is nearly unbearable, your little one is probably getting stir-crazy, and you may be worried about getting your little one back into “school mode” soon.
Have you heard of the “summer slide”? It’s a term to describe the loss of academic skills while on summer vacation. According to studies, students from low-income households are more seriously affected—particularly in reading—but all students experience some of this loss when they are not engaging in educational activities throughout the summer.
The good news is that you can help your child with their academic activities, while still continuing to have a fun summer! They won’t even realize just how much they are learning…
Here are some tips that can help you prepare your little one for Kindergarten (or even pre-school) in these last weeks of summer:
Reading & Writing Activities:
- Weekly visits to the library will get them excited about perusing new books and stories.
- Summer ‘story hour’ at the library or local bookstore will teach them to listen to others and give them a chance to socialize with other children.
- Writing letters or words in different sensory trays, like shaving cream, sand or salt.
- Decorating the sidewalk with chalk.
- Keeping a summer journal and writing down what you did together each day.
- Practice name writing—it doesn’t have to be perfect, but legible enough to give them a boost of confidence.
- Talk about letters and practice their sounds together (there are tons of games you can play to make this more fun).
- Use magnetic letters on your fridge and practice sight-words.
- Set a good example by showing how much you read and enjoy it. Don’t just equate it to Facebook updates, but show them that you read DIY-bookshelf directions, the newspaper, your book, your recipe for dinner, etc.
Math & Science Activities:
- Counting anything & everything (watermelon seeds, slicing up their hot dog, flower petals, Lego pieces…).
- Practice sight-numbers when passing street signs or mile-markers.
- Blowing up a balloon with a soda bottle.
- Making tornados in a jar.
- Creating ice cream in a bag.
- Freezing homemade popsicles and discussing the change from liquid to solid. Then explain the reverse process as they watch an ice cube melt on the patio.
Developing Fine Motor Skills:
- Practice using scissors.
- Blow bubbles at the park.
- Make jewelry with pasta.
- Trace shapes, letters and numbers with stencils.
- Create messy artwork with play dough.
- Fill up coloring books and learn how to “stay in the lines”.
- Learn to tie shoes, button shirts, and zip up jackets.
- Play educational games on apps via an iPad/tablet.
Developing Gross Motor Skills:
- Learn to ride a tricycle.
- Go on scavenger hunts.
- Start a family hula hooping challenge.
- Play hopscotch together.
- Make and fly kites.
Prepare them for the Kindergarten experience with these books:
- “I Love You All Day Long,” by Francesca Rusachas.
- “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten,” by Joseph Slate.
- “I Am Absolutely Too Small for School,” by Lauren Child.
- “Countdown to Kindergarten,” by Alison McGhee.
- “The Kissing Hand,” by Audrey Penn.
Memorizing the Basics & Safety:
- Memorize full name.
- Memorize phone number.
- Memorize home address.
- Talk about stranger safety (If someone asks if you would like some candy… If someone pulls up in a van and asks for help finding his lost puppy… What do you say? What do you do?).
Get them excited about & familiar with their new materials & new people:
- Pack a lunch during the summer in his/her new lunchbox and have a picnic out of it.
- Let them pick out their crayons, pencils, notebooks and supplies.
- Bling out the backpack, by adding a monogram, their name, stickers, felt flower pins or special iron-on patches.
- Say “hello” to their teacher in advance of the first day. There is usually an Open House before school starts.
- Set up a playdate with at least one other kid in the class. There are usually message boards online where you can connect with parents.
Following Directions, but Staying Creative:
- Give your child jobs. Have your child listen to verbal instructions and teach them to follow them. This will make them very successful in school.
- Give your child space. Despite all these activities and the need to practice for academia, don’t forget to just let your child roam the neighborhood with instructions to be home before dinner. Let your child use his or her imagination when playing games and entertain him/herself. Take a break for the helicopter parenting and let your child learn on his/her own—it’s equally important, if not moreso.
- Give your child love. Hug them, kiss them, bandage up their boo-boos, listen to them, trust in them.
And last, but not least, don’t forget to capture these fleeting childhood moments and upload them into your BabyPage book! This will be a summer you never want to forget.
Want to learn more? Visit our School Time Pinterest Board for more ideas, tips, crafts, printables, and more to help your little one learn. You may also want to visit our Craft With The Kids board, and Summertime board for more fun ideas.