Sum, sum summertime: Learning while they play

It’s vacation time and hectic school days yield to the long, leisurely days of summer. Life slows down. But does learning need to? Not at all. In fact, the phenomenon that teachers refer to as summer slack -- a forgetting of last year’s basics --need not occur at all. Here are a few activities that will ignite, rather than melt, your child’s brainpower in the summer heat.

One more chapter, please?

Family read-alouds often get dropped when schedules get busy or when kids can read to themselves. If you’ve let this happen, now is the time to begin again. Choose a book that the whole family will love (fantasy such as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a good choice for all ages) and read it under a tree, on the front stoop or in a tent by flashlight. Most children’s listening comprehension is greater than their reading level. When you read aloud you model good reading, introduce your children to new vocabulary and more complex ideas, and show them the power of a great story.

Then capitalize on the reading excitement by taking a trip to your local library. Most libraries offer a summer reading program with built in reading incentives. If you have a child who isn’t interested in the theme of the program, begin your own reading program. Offer an ice-cream sundae for the first four books read, a special outing for the next four. Place a notebook on the kitchen counter where everyone in the family can write reviews of their favorite (or not so favorite) books. Read the reviews and talk about the books at dinner.

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