Ever hear of the summer brain drain? When kids don’t practice their new skills over the summer, teachers spend more time reviewing last school year’s learning before working on new skills.
To help your kids retain the information they learned the previous school year, have them practice their math and writing skills during the summer. Just 5 to 10 minutes of daily practice makes starting a new grade in the fall much easier.
Many schools send home packets of work to do over the summer. My children’s school is no different. My incoming first grader and third grader each had packets of about 20 pages to work on, along with a book to read. My 3rd grader has a book report to do after he’s finished reading his assigned book.
Summer Academics: Math, Reading, and Writing
As a parent, I have my own plan for my children’s summer academics. As a former homeschooler, I have expectations when it comes to learning. I expect my children to learn their math facts and spelling rules. I also expect my children to learn history and science at an early age. Few schools teach history, and few have time to do the thorough study of science which I did with my oldest son. Realistically, I don’t have the time to after school my 5 kids classically as I had when I was homeschooling one child full time.
Practice Math and Writing Skills Daily
Instead, I’m using the summer as a way to supplement their learning and work on skills that need improving. My plan is to practice our math and handwriting daily for about 15 minutes at the most. We’re also getting lots of books out of the library. While I do encourage my kids to pick out their own books, I also use the lists from the Well Trained Mind to seed our library book bin with story books focusing on history and science.
Field Trips to Local Museums and Historic Sites
The other part of my summer plan is visiting local museums, arboretums, and historical spots as part of our first grade Flat Stanley Project for school. We’ve been to Fort Mifflin on the Delaware River twice to learn about the fort and its use during the Civil War. Our trip to Lake Garrison in New Jersey led to my 6 year snorkeling for fresh water clams and other finds in the fresh water lake. Each time we’ve been to the Heinz Refuge and Tyler Arboretum, we’ve learned more about the different environments in our area. I’m collecting the posts on my Pinterest board, and at the end of the school year, I’ll turn the pictures into a photo book for my 1st grade son.
Family Fun: Cooking with Kids
Finally, I’ve been cooking with the kids. I’ve always included my kids in the cooking in some way, whether it’s washing produce, cutting fruits and veggies, or mixing batters. This summer, we’ll be focusing on Paleo recipes from sites like The Paleo Parents, Nom Nom Paleo, and The Paleo Mom. Our plan is to transition into Paleo as a family during the summer when it’s easy to experiment with recipes.
Summer Educational Resources
- Calculadders – I used this math speed drill program with my oldest son. It usually takes 5 tries to learn and write the facts in 2 minutes. The 1st level focuses on writing the numbers neatly and quickly, always an asset in school. Calculadders covers addition and multiplication facts.
- Donna Young’s Handwriting Sheets – Even though my children have handwriting books they use in school, I’m having them practice writing their letters daily. My 8 year old son is learning cursive with lots of complaining. Practicing a little daily will help him when he needs to write more in cursive in school.
- Public Library – I still remember the days when we would walk out with 30 books in our bag. The public library is an incredible resource, not just for the books, but also because of the programs our children’s librarian puts together.
- My own homeschool resources – I held on to all my volumes of Story of the World, along with my collection of historical fiction and science books.
- One resource I have forgotten to use this summer is Spelling City. I put my Kindergarten’s sight words and my 2nd grader’s spelling words into this program during the school for practice. Now that I’ve remembered the program (lucky kids!), we’ll be practicing our words 15 minutes daily.