Megan Kuhfeld, a senior research scientist at NWEA, a nonprofit that develops educational assessments, says, “While reading often gets the attention with summer reading programs, mathematics can often be more impacted, so focusing on practicing mathematics skills during the summer can help.” Overall it’s critical for parents to put extra time and attention into reinforcing material learned in school to help it stay fresh in their minds.
To give your kids an educational boost during this long school break, here are some ideas on how to make learning fun this summer.
Learn another language
Summer is a great time to brush up on or pick up another language — especially if an international vacation is on the calendar. Duolingo's highly visual and colorful interface, easy-to-understand structure, and gamified experience works for learners of all ages, including younger children. The free app allows you to choose from 38 languages — even Klingon from Star Trek! — that are taught with listening, writing, and reading activities.
Spanish School Bus is a highly rated app to get your little one started with Spanish. Created by a Montessori instructor, the app features Spanish songs performed by Grammy-award winning Latinx musicians, and uses videos and games to teach vocabulary, counting, and culture. For more advanced language practice, try finding an email or snail mail penpal from another country that speaks the language your child wants to learn. Websites like PenPal and Interpals can help you find an international pen pal. The app HelloTalk lets you chat via text, voice, and video and includes translation and pronunciation aids.
Preserve summer memories
Documenting summer fun as it’s happening can not only preserve memories for the future, but also keep storytelling, writing, art, and even tech skills sharp. Challenge kids to put together a digital scrapbook or slideshow using photos they take during summer vacations, camps, day trips, family reunions, or other memorable occasions. Shutterfly makes it easy to create printed books, calendars, cards, or even wall art they can keep for themselves and give to others as gifts.
Another way to use summer photos: Make a memory box or time capsule. Let your child collect various objects and photos that represent their favorite parts of the summer, or draw objects or scenarios on index cards or poster paper. Then gather everything together into a shoe box or other sturdy container, label it with the date, and seal it shut for a fun surprise years from now.
Full STEM ahead
If your kids already love Minecraft, then you’ll definitely want to check out Minecraft Education edition as a learning tool. Available for laptops or gaming consoles, this version (free trial available) of the world-building video game is an exciting and creative way to sneak in some basic fundamentals of engineering, design, math, and coding. If your child wants to really dive in deep, find a Minecraft urban design competition or a Minecraft camp in your area. For younger kids, apps like Inventioneers, CodeSpark, and Codeable Crafts turn science, technology, and engineering basics into puzzles and playtime kids will look forward to. You can also find all kinds of DIY Lego learning activities online, like these activities for a range of ages or this calendar with 31 different building challenges.