It’s summer time and school’s out. This doesn’t mean that learning has to stop. Although less regimented than during school term, there is so much to stimulate young minds over the holidays and keep that brain ticking and curious. We’ve all seen the effects of summer learning loss, so let’s support our children in maintaining and developing the skills they spent so much time trying to hone during the academic year.
Science Experiments at home
The most enjoyable part of science lessons is getting messy and creating experiments. There are many experiments that you can do from the comfort of your own home.
Be sure to ask probing questions and, if you don’t understand the science behind your experiment, research it with your child. It can be a shared learning experience.
Some easy experiments include putting mentos in a coke bottle, making salt crystals, creating a home-made lava lamp and instantly freezing water. Many more ideas here.
Cooking and baking
This is a great opportunity to work on those maths skills. This can already start with the food shop. How many packets do we need to buy? Which offer is the best? How much change should we get back? Bring a pen and paper so your child can calculate.
Perhaps you need to adjust your recipe for more people. Get your child calculating the amounts of ingredients using ratio and fractions. It can be great when baking cookies for younger children to divide the dough into a certain amount of cookies as enacting the calculation physically reinforces what division means. If you split the dough into 4 cookies is each cookie bigger or smaller than if you make 8 cookies with the same dough? For older kids, here is a great video on the chemistry of cookies.
For children and teenagers who have major exams coming up, it is best to keep on top of their academic studies throughout the summer holidays. At the very least they need to maintain their level (we don’t want summer brain drain). In addition to this, it could also a great opportunity to get a head start on the academic year to come. Finding the right balance really depends on the individual, but for those sitting 11+ common entrance exams in January, I would suggest doing at least 1-2 hour study in the morning before the holiday activities begin. Having a fun and motivating tutor come in and give a helping hand takes the burden off as the child doesn’t have to tackle all the work alone. The tutor can analyse and strengthen the child’s weaker points, making the sessions more productive.
As children and teenagers respond well to a structure, as long as it is clear that the mornings are for study and the rest of the day is for holiday activities/relaxation then the balance feels fair and after studying there is always something to look forward to.
Make use of time spent travelling
Play word and number games, such as the alphabet game. You can list countries, cities, food whatever topic you choose doing a round starting with each letter. Alternatively, you can play so that the next player starts on the last letter of the previous player, spelling out each word. Other games include 20 questions and the memory game.
Sometimes it can be a challenge keeping peace in the car during longer journeys (I remember having some terrible fights with my sister). You can keep children’s mind engaged and peaceful during long journeys by listening to a book tape in the car. Have discussions about the characters and their motivations and why they make the choices they make.
These days writing a letter feels like it’s becoming a lost art. Teach your child how to lay out a letter and post it to their friends. It can be a simple as a post card. You can ask them to keep a diary/scrap book that they can look back on. Suggest to older children that you start a blog together? You can document your holiday, write posts, and present ideas creatively. With my students, when we come by new vocabulary we note words and their meanings in our “Vocab Vault”. When there are 10 new words in there, I challenge my students to write a short story involving the new vocabulary. This gives the child a creative challenge and an opportunity to practice using these new words so they may add them to their vocabulary tool belt.
This goes without saying. Some of my fondest memories are of my mother reading us a chapter of Harry Potter before bed time during the holidays. It was terribly exciting and always left us craving more which didn’t always help us go to sleep, but that hunger to know what happens next ignited a love of reading.
The summer holidays are a great opportunity to choose reading material above the level of reading done at school, so let your child pick what they want to read from different genres and different types of publications; novels, diaries, comics, magazines and poetry. Ask specific questions to challenge their critical thinking and ask for evidence from the passage that backs up what they are saying.
Another option is to read a book and watch the movie together as a family. Your child will have the insider knowledge from having read the book and you’ll be able to make comparisons between the book and film. This is great for analytical thinking. If reading the entire book in one go is too big an ask for your child, break it up into chapters and watch the movie up until the end of where they have read each time.
Planning Family Trips
The more involved your child is in planning trips, the more invested they will be. Encourage your child to help plan how you will get to your destination, what type of transport will you take, how long the journey will it take, research the historical background of the city, are there any landmarks, can they find these on a map, what do you need to bring (make a checklist).
If you are going abroad, this is an opportunity to learn some basic vocabulary/phrases in the language to use when speaking to natives.
If you are spending time in nature you’ll come across different insects and plants, imagine you are an explorer seeing these for the first time, get your child drawing their findings annotating specific features.
There is an app called geocaching which is a virtual treasure hunt. It can be lots of fun being outside exploring and practising their navigational skills.
Play Board Games
There are so many great board games that practice counting and develop literacy and problem-solving. These include Scrabble, Chess, Linkee and Jenga and Trivial Pursuit In games that involve keeping score or money, such as monopoly, get your child to be the banker. You can challenge your child to be creative and create their own board game. Playing board games can be a wonderful bonding activity.
Article written by Hannah Ogahara, tutor of 7 years and founder of Love Learning Tutors.