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10 Creative Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer and Beyond

Summer vacation is a time for the kids to relax and have fun. But as parents, we have to make sure that they keep learning during this crucial period. Children experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. According to Ron Fairchild, the founder of the Smarter Learning Group, teachers typically spend between 4-6 weeks reteaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. The National Summer Learning Association has gathered research studies spanning 100 years that shows students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

But this summer brain drain doesn’t have to happen. We can keep our children’s minds active by making learning during the summer fun and interesting. You don’t have to send your kids to expensive summer camps or bore them with worksheets to keep their academic skills sharp. All it takes is a little imagination and planning.

Here are 10 creative ways to keep your kids learning this summer and beyond.

  • 10 Creative Ways to Keep Kids Learning This Summer and Beyond 1 of 12
    summer learning

    Click through to read all 10 creative ideas.

  • Cook a meal 2 of 12
    girl cook

    Allow your kids to help with dinner preparations. Not only will they keep their math skills sharp by measuring the ingredients, but they can also learn the science behind cooking (for more information on the convergence of cooking, science, and history watch episodes of "Good Eats"). In addition, the kids can sharpen their organizational and reading skills by following a recipe. Best of all, the whole family can enjoy a great meal.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Build something 3 of 12
    bird house

    Many kids enjoy working with their hands and building things. My sons and I have built model cars, a cigar box guitar, a playset for the backyard, and various LEGO creations. My daughter likes to make jewelry, duct tape accessories, and bird houses. Our whole family is currently working on a model train layout. These projects teach children about tools, building materials, and construction techniques. In addition, they can practice measuring, figuring out surface area, and a little geometry. If you're not a handy-person yourself, Loews and Home Depot have free building workshops for kids. 

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Plant a garden 4 of 12
    garden

    As a child, I spent the summers on my grandparents farm where my grandfather taught me how to plant and tend to crops. I cherished this time with him and learned many things about agriculture. You don't have to have a farm to plant a garden. All it takes is a small plot of land in your backyard. If you don't have a backyard a planter on the windowsill is perfect for growing a herb garden. Gardening teaches kids about biology, environment, and chemistry. It also teaches them a valuable lesson in patience.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Explore your city 5 of 12
    city

    Many of us take our own cities for granted. We're always eager to explore other places, but fail to appreciate the things that make our own city great. Spend the summer touring your town to discover hidden gems. Each city has a plethora of historical sites, museums, zoos, architectural styles that will help to expand your kids' minds. If possible, take them to a city council meeting for a live lesson in civics.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Visit the public library 6 of 12
    boys at library reading

    Public libraries offer many activities to keep kids learning over the summer. Most of the events are free or require a nominal fee. Activities range from story time to magic shows to art projects. Summer is also a great time for kids to discover new books to read

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Attend a concert 7 of 12
    Concert Night 2

    Studies have shown that listening to music helps to improve cognitive abilities. Take advantage of this knowledge, by exposing your children to different musical styles at the many music festivals that happen during the summer. Each city has several opportunities to attend free concerts and community events that feature music. Your child just may be influenced to start learning an instrument. If they already play an instrument, listening to professional musicians play will help to improve their musical abilities.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

     

  • Redecorate bedroom 8 of 12
    child's bedroom

    The Elmo themed room you designed may have appealed to your kids when they were younger. But as they get older, the fuzzy red monster starts to lose some of his appeal. Redecorating your child's room is a fun project that will teach your kids several practical skills. Let them to participate in overall design concept planning, measuring room dimensions, and picking color schemes and accessories. They can also help with painting, installing flooring, and building furniture. These hands-on activities will keep their minds active and their creative juices flowing.

    Photo by Phil Manker via Flickr Creative Commons

  • Take a road trip 9 of 12
    SONY DSC

    Road trips are a great opportunity to teach your kids about geography. Ditch the GPS and let them plot your journey with a map. You can also incorporate some math lessons by asking them to figure out how many miles you will travel and the approximate time needed to reach your destination. Keep the trip fun by playing games such as "I Spy" or "Spot the License Plate." On a trip from Texas to Colorado, my family was able to locate all 50 state license plates.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

  • Create a family tree 10 of 12
    family tree

    Building a family tree helps kids to understand their family's heritage, culture and history. Have your kids call their extended family - grandparents, aunts, uncles - to hear stories about their lives and how they perceived the historical events they lived through. Sites such Ancestry.com make it easy to gather information about your ancestors. Incorporate old photographs, letters, personal accounts and memorabilia to make the experience richer. 

    Image by Family Art Studio via Flickr Creative Commons

  • Play games from your childhood 11 of 12
    hopscotch

    When I was a kid, I never payed much attention to the mathematical principles behind cames such as Jacks, Rubik's Cube, Hopscotch, or Monolopy. Now I use these games to help my children keep their math skills sharp. Games that allow kids to move such as jumping rope, hula hoop, or tag also help kinesthetic learners to remain active during the summers. In addition to playing these standard games, encourage children to make up new games and use their imaginations.

    Image via Stock.Xchng

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