Summer is an important break from academic learning and provides great growth opportunities for kids. But it’s also nice to ensure they don’t entirely turn off the academic side of their brain for three months. Check out this list of fun and engaging activities that keep your kiddos learning without feeling like work.
Summer is in full swing. Without school to fill the days, the boys attend fun camps each week. They play sports, take field trips, visit the pool, and do arts and crafts projects. So far, they’re loving it. They do not, however, do much academic work, as is to be expected.
I appreciate the break they get from brainy days sitting at desks and stuffing their little minds with knowledge. The summer reprieve from the intellectual grind is important. However, I also want to make sure they don’t totally fall away from school-related thinking.
To encourage the boys to exercise their minds without feeling forced, we’ve incorporated a few small activities into our weekly routines to keep their brains sharp.
Music Lessons or Practice
The boys take piano lessons during the school year, and we continued these throughout the summer. I sit down with them most days to practice for about ten minutes.
As their skills start to surpass my meager abilities, I sit at the piano with them more for encouragement and moral support than instruction. It’s a nice way to reinforce for them that we are invested in their development and enjoy spending time with them.
On a side note, the boys don’t practice on this fun piano (in the photos), but they did enjoy showing off their skills when we found it in the corn maze at Cherry Crest Adventure Farm a few weeks ago. We visited the adventure farm last year, and the boys had such a good time we put it on our summer bucket list for this year.
Book Club Snack Bar
I started a Book Club Snack Bar to incentivize the boys to read, without forcing it or making it feel like work. For every five minutes the boys read during our Book Club Snack Bar times, they earn a ticket. They use the tickets to buy special treats from the Snack Bar box only during reading time. This gives them something special to associate with reading and make it a bit more fun.
We also visit our local library about once a week, often on the way home from camp, so they can refresh their ‘to be read’ piles and have been plenty of books for reading times.
We regularly listen to podcasts, a fun and casual way to engage in critical thinking, build vocabulary, and foster their love of learning. These are a few of our favorite kids’ podcasts. Because they live on our phones and tablets, we always have podcasts available for listening and often listen to them in the car.
Our boys also enjoy audiobooks. We get them from the library and listen to them in a variety of ways. I’ll be sharing more next week about different ways the boys listen to audiobooks.
About a year-and-a-half ago I discovered a website called Super Teacher Worksheets. T used to beg me to make math worksheets for him. After tiring of making all of the worksheets by hand, I found a website where I can download pre-made worksheets for all sorts of educational topics at various developmental levels.
An annual membership to Super Teacher Worksheets costs about $30 a year, which is well worth the investment for us. We download math sheets, coloring sheets, and wordplay puzzles. The site even has a tool to make your own word searches.
With or without the membership, creating or downloading little worksheets can be a really fun way for kids to continue sharpening their skills without feeling like it’s work. We only do these worksheets when the boys ask for them. I never require the boys to do them, because I want to be sure that we keep the process of learning fun.
Growing up, I loved logic puzzles and bought books of logic puzzles to do in my free time. I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, because my boys love sudoku, word searches, and crossword puzzles. We only have a few puzzle books, but they’re great for travel, sitting restaurants while waiting for our food, or even doing at home. With so many puzzles in each book, they last for a long time.
Summer comes to a close in a few weeks, but you have plenty of time to try out some of these fun and engaging ways to exercise your youngsters’ brains. Slowly get them back into the routine to be ready for school this fall.
Do you have any other ways your kids like to battle brain drain during the summer? If so be sure to share them in the comments. We’re always looking for great new ideas.