Your child is growing up fast. She probably values her independence and time with her friends more than ever. But she still needs your guidance about how to spend her free time this summer. This might mean putting limits on screen time, and following rules for using screens wisely. Make sure your child has plenty of in-person social time — and amidst all that, make sure there’s time for learning, too.
When kids don’t do learning activities over the summer, they can lose as much as two months of the reading and math skills that they worked so hard to learn during the school year. It’s a widespread phenomenon called “summer learning loss,” and experts say it’s a big factor in kids falling behind in school — and often staying behind. To make sure this doesn’t happen to your child, here are some fun ways you and your family can help your child build on what she learned in fourth grade and stay on track in fifth grade.
Learning activities for the summer before 5th grade
Make screen time count
Take advantage of your child’s fascination with screens. She’s probably ready to work through lessons on her own on Khan Academy, a free online tool for teaching math (and other subjects, too). To get started, go to “Math by grade” and choose fourth grade to start. The site assesses and teaches as your child works her way through problems, so she can get more help with concepts she still needs to work on and jump ahead when she has mastered a lesson. Newsela.com helps students with reading comprehension by offering current, kid-friendly news stories written for grade-specific reading levels from elementary school all the way through high school. Your child may already be familiar with the site, and if so, he may have a class login. If not, you can sign your child up for free. Ask your child to keep the whole family informed by telling you about one story he reads each day.
Summer movie night
Pop some popcorn and improve your child’s literacy. Watching movies together and talking about the characters and the plot can help your child learn to analyze the elements of a story. It’s even better if you choose a movie based on a book your child read this year. How were the characters, setting, and plot of the movie different from the book? How did this change the story? For inspiration, check out our lists of 4th grade and 5th grade books so great they made a movie.
Do pizza math
There are fraction lessons everywhere if you know where to look. Make two or three small pizzas. (You can find pre-made pizza dough or uncooked pizza crusts at most grocery stores.) Let your child put the toppings on. When the pizzas are ready, cut one into eight slices, one into ten slices, and one into twelve slices. How many slices are there in half of each pizza? If you eat one-third of the 12-slice pizza, how many slices will you eat? Then use the pizza slices to teach your child equivalents. For example, ask, “What is larger: 1/8th or 1/12th; 2/10ths or 5/10ths?” It’s easier to understand when you’re looking at two slices and can see which one is bigger.
Let your child time herself with a stopwatch app as she runs laps, sprints, or bikes a designated route. Or encourage her to challenge herself to break her record shooting baskets. Have her keep track of her progress all summer long. Kids this age love a good competition, even when they’re competing against themselves. And vigorous exercise is not just good for the body, it’s critical for your child’s brain development. The goal should be for your child to get 30 to 60 minutes of get-sweaty exercise every day.
Creating a cartoon
If your child likes comics and graphic novels, encourage him to doodle a figure or two. They could be real people in his life or made-up characters. What do they say to each other? What’s happening around them? A simple cartoon a day could become an epic story by summer’s end.
Making a family playlist
Have everyone in the family contribute their favorite songs or genres of music. Let your child choose songs, put them in order and give the playlist a name that reflects the mood or theme he wants to create. He might act like he’s too cool for the Ferreira Family Dance Party playlist, but he’s likely to beam proudly and dance enthusiastically when you play it.
Find a postcard pal
Seek out a friend or relative who your child can correspond with over the summer. Let this person know your goal is for your child to practice writing, and ask them to help by writing back! Postcards are fun to pick out, inexpensive to mail, and will give your child a little practice keeping her writing skills sharp.