Keeping Young Minds Active During the Summer

Summer is a time for relaxation and family fun, but most parents would agree that their children should be actively engaged in educational activities and experiences over the school break. To keep your child productive, consider the following ideas, broken down into each major subject area:

1. Heed the Need to Read: Countless studies show the importance of summer reading: Kids who read in the summer outperform their peers in the fall. Avoid the “summer slide” by making sure your kids read often during the summer.

●Most libraries have a summer reading program with incentives and prizes. Visiting the library once a week can be a fun family escape. Research shows that kids who choose their own books (with parent approval) read more.

●Create a time during the day when no TV or electronics are allowed.

● Read to your child and listen to your child read.

●Listen to books on CD  while traveling.

●Model reading.

2. Do the Math! Few would argue the importance of math. Skills that are not used are often forgotten, so practice is essential. Besides specialized math tutoring facilities, which are gaining popularity and producing increasingly impressive results, there are many ways to keep math skills sharp at home. Consider these fun activities that allow your child to practice math:

● Follow recipes

● Read maps, and calculate mileage on trips.

● Use flashcards to practice facts.

● Utilize online math practice sites for kids, such as the following:

-Funbrain.com

-AAA math.com

-Coolmath.com

3. Invite ‘em to Write! Good writing skills provide evidence of learning and understanding. Writing makes thoughts and ideas visible and gives children a clear way to express themselves. Encourage your children to write using these ideas:

● Keep a journal on trips and at home.

●Write letters and emails, requiring correct capitalization, punctuation and grammar.

●Let your child record her voice telling a story, then dictate that story onto paper.

●Encourage your child to write one short story a week. Keep them in a folder as a keepsake from the summer.

4. Smart Summer Science:  Science helps us to understand the world around us. Besides being educational, science can be lots of fun! The following activities reinforce important science concepts:

●Visit science museums, zoos, and aquariums.

●Dig for fossils.

●Gaze at stars, find constellations and track the moon’s phases.

●There are many fun experiments that can be done at home. Visit the following web sites for ideas:

-National Geographic Kids

-PBS Kids-Dragonfly TV

-Funology

 

5. Make History with Social Studies Activities-Summer provides an escape from  that sometimes-boring history class. Use the summer months to strengthen your child’s interest in things of the past. History teaches helps us learn from our past and prepares us for the future. Geography knowledge is vital, but often over-looked. There are many activities that can encourage your child’s social studies understanding:

● Visit history museums and historical places.

●Research your family tree.

●Make a map of your neighborhood using a GPS .

●Research and report upon the locations (states/countries) that you visit on vacation.

 

Kelly Wilson Mize is a wife, mother, freelance writer, and fifth grade teacher living in Huntsville, Alabama. She holds a master’s degree in elementary education.

Word Play for Day

Check out this great article and summer fun idea from ParentLife writer and local school counselor, Bill Conger, about musician Roger Day.

music_dream_lil.jpgRoger Day doesn’t have any trouble getting in touch with his inner child. As a children’s performer, the former camp counselor travels the nation entertaining preschool- and elementary-age children with silly songs that he created like "It’s a No-No to Kiss a Rhino!" and "Mosquito Burrito."

"What I love about doing children’s music is that it’s all my own stuff," Day said following a July 9th gig at the Brentwood Library near Nashville, Tennessee. "It’s my own creativity. It’s my own imagination. I’m not doing other people’s music. I think that’s great for kids to see so that they are encouraged to use their imagination too.”

An entertainer on the college circuit, Day never envisioned making a living in the kid’s market. After his wife had the couple’s third child, he became a stay-at-home dad while mom returned to her speech therapist job with special needs children. During those three years, he played a few more college dates, but he felt led to transition to children’s music full-time in the late 90s. "I told everybody I’m going to do kid’s music, and everybody said, ‘Greeeeat! Good luck with that’  because nobody really had an idea of what you could do with it."

His songs are more than goofy ditties that kids sing. It’s also another way of educating them, something he has witnessed personally. "My son, who’s 16, mentioned at the end of school that they were studying ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’ because in one of my very first songs ‘Reach Up’ I talk about having no time for albatrosses hanging around us. He said that when he studied ‘The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner,’ he thought: Albatross! I know what that is! My hope is that kids when they’re taking their SAT will say: ‘I wonder how many chambers there are in a snake heart? Ah, 3. How do I know that? Oh, that Roger Day song talked about it.’ "

To check out more about Roger Day’s music and his touring schedule, visit his Web site www.rogerday.com.

What is the best kid music that you secretly like to listen to?