Here in the Philadelphia suburbs, summer vacation is about halfway over. Even though stores have been selling back-to-school supplies for weeks (and we’ve already stocked up), we still have all of August to enjoy together before our girls go back after Labor Day.
But, of course, we want to avoid the dreaded Summer Slide (duhn duhn duhn…).
So how do you keep your kids’ brains from turning to mush, while still letting them be kids and enjoy their summer?
In summers past, I have taken a very structured approach to summer learning. But after a difficult fifth grade year, Audrey was feeling quite burnt out with even the idea of learning. Besides the social stress she was under, her teacher was a very cut-and-dry type of person and there were a lot of workbook pages completed over the course of the year.
So as soon as school let out, I told Audrey that she wasn’t allowed to do anything academic until after the fourth of July. She really needed that break to let her mind rest. And of course, reading isn’t academic to her!
This summer, both girls were sent home with a summer packet of work to complete. They were told that it was “optional,” but we told them that it is not optional for them. I want them both to start out the year on a good note with their new teachers. Georgia started her packet right away, as Sydney was happily working in her “Bridge” workbook (she is at the age where she looooooves workbooks, and it was on sale for $5!) and has only one page left to go. Audrey, after much rolling of eyes, has finally gotten a good chunk of hers done, as well. I told her that I would like her to finish up this week, so she has a good chunk of time left during the summer to not worry about it.
Besides the assigned work, I think the best way my girls have been keeping their little brains sharp has been through our library summer reading program. They love going to the library at least weekly (but last week we went twice) and competing with each other for how many 20 minute blocks they have colored in on their book logs. We all have summer reading goals, and we are plowing our way through them.
Audrey and Georgia were involved in a summer kids’ Bible study through our church, which was another great way to keep them thinking in a not-school way. They each had a kids’ devotional book that they worked through each week, complete with Bible verses to look up, questions to answer, and puzzles to solve.
Also through our church, Audrey and I joined a mother-daughter book club. Each week, we read a couple chapters of Body Talk and then meet with other moms and daughters to discuss our thoughts. It’s helped open up some discussions for us, as she is entering those awkward adolescent years and needs to feel comfortable with the changes she will be facing.
Learning to cook is another thing my girls work on during the summer. Yesterday, Audrey baked rocky road brownies from scratch. The other day, Georgia made our dinner. It was mac and cheese with cantaloupe, but a girl’s got to start somewhere!
Finally, we’ve been introduced to a great card game that has helped our girls keep up with their math facts. It’s called Golf, and you need two decks of regular playing cards, including the jokers. I did a quick Google search, but didn’t find our exact variation, so tomorrow I’ll just tell you how to play. It’s fun for the whole family, even 5-year-old Sydney is able to play without help. And she often wins!
My girls are fortunate not to struggle academically in school. Even so, I want them to start off the year fresh and ready to learn. I think by maintaining a culture of learning in our family year-round by encouraging them to ask questions and read a lot, they will have a great start to the school year.
How do your kids keep their minds active during the summer months?