Sounds fun, right? Not so much.
It’s actually the phrase used to describe the information kids forget when they have a two-month break from school.
We spend 10 months helping them practice reading and writing and math skills, so of course we should expect that some of that progress will be lost if we don’t keep up the practice over the holiday. But who wants to spend summer days on flash cards and work books? While these are fine tools to try to include in your routine, there are lots of fun ways to keep working on those key education skills through the summer. In fact, you probably already do a lot of things without realizing the impact they can have!
We’ve gathered dozens of ideas you can incorporate into your summer routine to keep learning and having fun. Many of these activities can promote several skills at once (for example, cooking a double batch of muffins involves math, reading, problem solving, even some science and creativity!), but to streamline ideas we’ve broken them down into several categories.
Fun Ways to Work on Math Skills
Bowling – make sure you pick an alley that doesn’t keep score automatically or can turn off the feature for you!
Classic card games, from solitaire to crib to Rumoli, can be wonderful for solo and group fun, with great chances to practice patterns, addition, and more.
Recognizing patterns and counting by various number groups are important skills for math readiness. Encourage the kids to collect small items – seashells, rocks, toys – and count them by two, fives, and tens, as well as create patterns.
Fun Ways to Encourage Art Appreciation
Grab some smooth rocks and paint and create ‘kindness rocks’ to hide around town.
Our communities are filled with free outdoor concerts; take advantage! You never know what type of music your child might enjoy.
We’re also lucky to have amazing public art throughout the province, as well as fantastic galleries to visit, including the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, The Owens Art Gallery (Canada’s oldest university art gallery, free admission), and Moncton’s Art Gallery (located in the lobby of City Hall, free).
Fun Ways to Work on Reading Skills
Sign up for the summer reading challenge at your local library branch. You’ll get a special card to keep track of the books you read and earn a certificate at the end!
Plan a special movie night around watching a story that you first read as a family. Harry Potter, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Breadwinner, Harriet the Spy, Charlotte’s Web – the possibilities are almost endless!
If books aren’t capturing your child’s attention, look to other sources of reading: maybe there’s a magazine that speaks to their interest in sports, song lyrics they want to learn, or recipes they want to make.
Fun Ways to Work on Writing Skills
The simple joy of getting mail and building friendship through letters never goes out of style! Chat with friends and family to find a perfect pen pal match for your child.
Young readers and writers can enjoy a simple game of hangman, writing their names in the sand at the beach, and chalk in the driveway is always a hit!
Keep a summer journal; ensure everyone, you included, write a little bit each day about the adventures and daily activities. Older kids can incorporate an online blog (you can always set it to private, so it’s not about sharing your child’s life or gaining followers!) – and don’t forget to encourage their photography skills along the way!
Fun Ways to Encourage Emotional Skills
Start a wake-up-with-yoga routine this summer (there are great online videos that are kid-friendly, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga) or a daily meditation moment with free podcasts.
Create a quiet getaway space for each family member; a corner nook with books and stuffies, a comfy chair in a sunny spot, a cool treehouse.
Journaling – using words, drawings, or even mixed media – is a wonderful way to acknowledge the importance of our emotions. Remember: modeling this behaviour is the best way to encourage kids to take part!
Fun Ways to Work on Problem Solving Skills
Role playing games are full of opportunity for learning. Even young kids can enjoy an age-appropriate Dungeon & Dragons campaign! Hit up your local game or comic book store if you need some help.
Homemade scavenger hunts and obstacle courses are great for working on collaborative problem solving. Older kids can test their skills in escape rooms, inflatable water courses, and TreeGo!
Fun Ways to Work on Science Skills
The Royal Astronomical Society holds regular star gazing nights that are open to the public. You can learn about planets and constellations with a fun outing!
Plan a trip to Shediac’s Écocentre Homarus Eco-Centre, the Magnetic Hill Zoo, or Science East. New Brunswick also has two aquariums to visit and lots of coastline and forests to explore!
Summer is also a perfect time to take the ‘kitchen science’ outside. Baking soda volcanoes, contact solution slime, bouncy eggs – these are simple, inexpensive experiments that are wonderfully easy to enjoy in the great outdoors! A great reminder that the goal is to let your child experiment, not for you to lead a classroom lesson.
Fun Ways to Encourage Independence
Get a free downtown map from the Visitor’s Centre and have the kids navigate your route while you explore.
Let the kids be in charge of meal time whenever possible. Let them prepare the table and the food, even if it’s just a simple bowl of cereal in the morning for younger kids, right up to a full Sunday dinner with older children. This can include creating the grocery list, cooking the meal, and cleaning the kitchen – though maybe you can pitch in and help with the dishes!
Fun Ways to Discover History
Don’t forget about all our amazing museums and historical sites! Stick close to home or explore the province, with gems like Kings Landing, Pays de la Sagouine, Metepenagiag Heritage Park, Village historique acadien, Resurgo Place, and more.
Bring some paper and crayons to a local cemetery and do rubbings of memorial stones. Discuss how old the stones are, what you learn about the people and community, and what names were popular in the past.
And of course, keep up your child’s French/English language skills by watching their favourite TV show in French, tuning in a French/English radio station, and encouraging them to use their language skills for simple tasks, like ordering an ice cream cone or asking where to find the washroom.
What other ways do you incorporate learning through fun in your family? Share your ideas below, please!
A version of this article appeared in Family 1st, a special projects publication of Brunswick News, of which Pickle Planet Moncton’s Jenna Morton is the Contributing Editor and Senior Writer. Family 1st is published four times a year, with issues in Moncton, Fredericton, and Saint John.