This summer we have lots of camps, sports, and pool time planned. But I have learning planned, too. The key for me as a working Mom is to make it fun and easy.
Why summer learning? As I mentioned in my last post, it was something my Mom, a former teacher, did when I was a child. Then there’s always the worry of summer slide. Truly though, the boys love learning as most young children do. So I figure I should take advantage and do as much as I can while there’s still the desire.
I started near the end of the school year by asking CJ’s teacher what he should work on over the summer. (If it’s too late, don’t worry. Think about what the teacher shared at conferences or simply go with what you think your child needs work on or would like to do.) Teachers always have suggestions because they’ve worked so closely with your child and know what the next grade-level expectation is.
While CJ is fine academically, his teacher said he needs to work on focus. She suggested that we concentrate on a project for 10-15 minutes each day. When he’s done, reward him with an activity he’ll enjoy.
The time frame is perfect because we’ll fit this in at the end of the day or on weekends. Advance planning is essential so we can get right to the work/project. As I said, quick and easy.
Our Summer Learning Plan
I’ve picked five focus areas, one for each weekday—writing, math, science, fine motor (because CJ’s teacher said this could improve his handwriting), and special. Remember, we read every day so that’s not included specifically, though most work includes some kind of reading. I purchased the following activities for each area:
This year in school, CJ and his classmates wrote in a journal on a regular basis. The page was half blank and half lines so they could draw and/or write. CJ liked this so I found Draw and Write: A Journal for Children to keep the writing going this summer. He also said that he wanted to write a book so I might pick up blank books (or a cool kit with everything I need).
To challenge CJ’s focus, it has to be a workbook. It is true desk work that is often done is school and seems to be where his mind wanders. He picked out Star Wars® Workbook: 1st Grade Math. After he does that for 10 minutes—and we’ll have to set the timer—he can do a more hands-on math activity like sorting and counting interesting objects or working with money.
To build the muscles in his hands and work on coordination, I found some small projects at the Michaels Craft Store called Creatology Camp. See if you can find these or put together your own collection with wikki stix, beads, and Legos. I also found suggestions from this blog helpful.
CJ’s favorite subject is science so I wanted to include it, though I’m far from a scientist. I’ve pulled out a product I worked on years ago called iOpeners, which offers science and social studies books with a teaching plan so I have some ideas on what to do or discuss after CJ reads the book. Since you might find this challenging to find or buy, try National Geographic Readers, The Magic School Bus series (both series can be found at your local library), and/or science experiment kits. I’m doing My First Mind Blowing Science kit as a special treat. The boys will be excited to do something hands on, and I’ll try to find a nonfiction book to go with the experiment.
This is a free day, which allows me to add something or have CJ pick something. To ensure there’s something to do, I picked up a Cut the Rope workbook based on one of his favorite games on the Kindle. This has various “thinking” games like mazes, crossword puzzles, and other challenges that require him to focus and use his brain.
Tracking Calendar & Rewards
What seems to excite CJ the most is the calendar we’re tracking our summer learning on. He’s come each day to ask where it is and what’s next. I know. It sounds too good to be true. Don’t worry. At some point the excitement will wane and he’ll tell me that summer learning is “so boring.” (His favorite phrase for something he doesn’t like or doesn’t want to do.)
For that reason, I’ve built in a reward system. Each day, CJ will get to add a star to the calendar for the type of project he’s done. If he accomplishes all the projects for the week, he’ll get to pick a book. And the reward might be adjusted depending on the motivation needed.
I hope our summer learning plan provides some quick and easy ideas for incorporating a little learning into your summer. Download our calendar to use for tracking reading, learning, and summer activities.
If you want something less planned, you might sign up for Reading Rocket’s texts with ideas for summer learning.
Enjoy whatever you do and, especially, the time with your kids. And, please share what you’re doing to inspire the rest of us.