Your funny, sunny, sweet child is excited about so many things. It’s important to feed your child’s hunger for learning during the summer months. Kids who don’t do learning activities over the summer break can lose a lot of what they worked so hard to learn during the school year. It’s a phenomenon called “summer learning loss” and on average it’s proven that kids lose as much as two months of reading and math skills. It’s also proven that keeping kids engaged in learning activities during the summer can counteract learning loss.
Here are some fun, easy ways you and your family can keep your child learning this summer so that your child isn’t falling behind when he starts third grade.
Learning activities for the summer before 3rd grade
Savor the suspense
Your child may be reading fluently on her own. But reading aloud to your child is still important. Your child can understand a more complicated story than she can read to herself. Choose a book that is more advanced that what she was reading at school this year. The best choice is a story with exciting twists and turns. Use funny or scary voices and make it as dramatic as you like. This way, it’s fun for your child — and she’ll be practicing listening skills that will also help build her vocabulary, her comprehension skills, and her knowledge bank. For inspiration, check out our list of read-aloud books for 3rd graders.
Shopping trip help
Your child can help you make the grocery list, read labels in the store, and compare prices. When you get home, set up a play store by gathering canned items, toys, books, and other household objects. Draw some play money (or use the Monopoly money) and write up simple price tags. For easy addition and subtraction, make the prices round numbers like $1, $5, $20. Price items on the high side so your child will have to do more difficult addition and subtraction. Now take turns shopping and being the cashier. How much will it cost to buy a $2 can of soup and a $15 toy? How much change will he get back if he gives you a $20 bill?
Ready for wheels
At this age, many kids are coordinated enough for bicycling, scooting, and skateboarding. Playground games like tag and capture the flag are also great exercise because they teach social and physical skills at the same time. Playing active games and getting at least an hour a day of exercise are important for learning, too. Kids learn critical thinking skills by playing games with rules and games that require strategy. Vigorous exercise is critical for your child’s brain development. Kids who exercise intensely perform better academically than kids who do not.
The story of my life
Have your child write down what she does each day. (Even dictating to an adult or older sibling is fine!) The key is to include as much detail as possible. For example, not just “I saw grandma,” but “I ate pizza with grandma.” Or enhancing, “We ate cookies,” with “I bit into a cookie expecting chocolate chips and was surprised to taste raisins.” Falling and scraping a knee? The dog barking at the mail carrier? No detail is too small to include if it strikes your child as noteworthy. Sometimes a small detail becomes the most important part of the story! Have your child illustrate her entry and write the date. Every week or so, when you have a quiet moment, look back together and talk about the highlights.
Sticky, squeaky, fuzzy, fizzy
Your child’s vocabulary is growing fast! The more you can develop your child’s vocabulary, the stronger his reading and writing skills will be. How many different words can you think of to describe how your mouth feels after a sip of lemon juice? How many different words can you think of that mean “angry?” How about “beautiful?” Playing Mad Libs is a fun way to practice new vocabulary words while also learning about parts of speech, like which words are nouns, adjectives, and verbs.
Watch the clock
Telling time to the nearest five minutes on digital and old-fashioned clocks is a skill your child should have learned in second grade. Help your child keep this skill sharp by asking him the time whenever you see a clock. Use this worksheet for more practice.
Tell a story with puppets
Have your child draw her favorite characters from a book or a show. Siblings or friends can do it, too. Cut out the characters and tape each one to a popsicle stick or a coffee stirrer. Now your child can crouch below the table and act out a story by holding the puppets up at table-level. Film it with your phone; she’ll want to watch and then do it again.