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Top summer learning activities for young elementary schoolers

Keep your first-, second-, or third-grader sharp this summer with fun brain boosters.

By Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann

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Rev up reading skills

"If you don’t use it, you lose it,” says Ben Shifrin, head of the Jemicy School in Owings Mills, MD, and an executive board member of the International Dyslexia Association. For a child who’s still mastering reading skills, summer can erode progress made during the school year.

In addition to reading with your child every day (check out our favorite books for first graders, second graders, third graders, and best book series for kids this age), listen to audio books during family car trips. At this age, most kids’ reading comprehension is ahead of their reading capacity, says Micki Freeny, coordinator of children and youth services for the DC Public Library. Audio books hold kids' interest and allow them to practice advanced reading fluency and comprehension — and build their vocabularies — without getting stalled on the language. Best of all, audio books will spark your child’s imagination. Find age-appropriate suggestions on Book Adventure, which rewards reading progress with prizes.

Jacquie Goetz Bluethmann is a freelance writer based in Detroit. She has written for  children's health and parenting magazines and blogs about both topics at Mom meets baby.

Comments from readers

"I fully believe that kids need continuous input during the summer months. But I see too many parents in grocery stores or department stores with their kids while talking on their cell phones or i-pads, etc. What children need most is the undivided attention of their parent while the child reads or the parent reads to the child. All technology is NOT better. Children need more one on one time with adults sans technology! "
"Audio books are the greatest thing I ever discovered. Most people don't even realize the huge selection of classic kids stories available as audio books at their local libraries. There are so many books I would never have time to read to my kids; but with audiobooks, we get in a few chapters every day driving between home and school. "