Studies suggest that kids lose between one and three months of learning over the summer. The good news is that parents can minimize summer learning loss by ensuring that kids stay engaged in reading and other educational activities over the course of the break.
This does not mean that kids need to be spending hours a day completing worksheets or reading textbooks though. Learning can take place in the midst of all sorts of fun activities, from adding up the cost of an order at the ice-cream shop to writing a postcard to a friend.
I usually received a small gift from my parents at the end of each successful school year, and it is a tradition that I have continued with my nephew. I try to choose gifts that are fun, but also foster learning and the grow our relationship. One year, part of his gift was a journal. As we passed it back and forth between our houses, we filled it with notes and other messages to each other. Another year, his gift was a set of books on Greek mythology. We read out loud to each other over the phone, and it lead to many interesting discussions and fun extension activities.
He is 8 this year, and loves Lego and watches, so a Lego watch an easy choice for a portion of his gift. It will encourage him to learn to tell time on an analog clock, but I also wanted to include something in the gift that encouraged him to practice writing (handwriting is still a bit of a challenge) and documented who he is right now. It had to be fun too.
I created the "T.O.P. (Totally Outstanding Points) Stuff" book. Outside, it is a notebook covered in duct tape:
Inside, it is filled with personalized "top 10 lists" and other funny questions for him to answer:
I have customized the questions in it to his interests, but you could easily change some of the content to suit your own kids' tastes.
Here is a list of some of the questions and prompts I have included:
- The 10 best games to play:
- The top 5 flavours of ice-cream:
- The five words I say the most:
- 5 things other than a ball that bounce:
- 10 things you should know about having a little brother:
- 5 awesome things you can make with Lego:
- 10 cool things you can do with a balloon:
- 5 things I would do if I was invisible:
- 5 foods that I never want to try:
- 10 best parts of being a teenager:
- 5 places I would love to visit:
- 10 things I wish my parents would let me do:
- 5 science experiments I want to try:
- 5 best ways to spend a summer day:
- My 10 favourite things in my room:
- 10 cool things I wish I had in my room:
- 5 things you could use to attach two pieces of paper if you didn't have tape or glue:
- 5 words I always seem to spell wrong:
- 10 words I know in another language:
- 5 cool tricks that I can do:
- 10 ways to bug mom and dad on a road trip:
- 5 places I don't like to go:
- 10 funniest jokes:
- 5 super-powers I wish I had (in order of most to least wanted):
- 5 things I could write with if I didn't have a pen oe pencil:
With a journal of Totally Outstanding Points like this to fill out over the summer, your kids will have the chance to practice handwriting and spelling, develop their categorization and critical thinking skills, and explore their creativity. There is something about lists that makes them less intimidating than other forms of writing. Younger kids can participate by dictating the answers to you, or by drawing. Older kids can add pictures and other elements of personalization to their journals as well.
I am excited to give both gifts to him tomorrow! How do you keep learning alive over the summer?