Kids are well into their summer vacations at this point, and I’m sure their days are filled with sun, fun and smiles. A new school year will quickly be upon them, though. So they won’t lose all they acquired over the last school year,  it would be an advantage to them to incorporate subtle but continuous learning over the summer. Here a few easy-to-implement ideas I’ve found helpful with my boys.

Everyday Engagement

Our kids really are like sponges. Whether we are intentionally teaching them or not, we are providing lessons with everything we do and every way we respond to the world around us. Quite frankly, you are perhaps your child’s best instruction manual. With that in mind, use activities in your day-to-day life as your new low maintenance lesson plans!

Let’s say your child got an introduction to math this year. Going to get gas can turn into an impromptu addition or subtraction activity. Talk to your child about counting the money you’ll need to give the cashier. Or, you can create a quick equation regarding how much gas to put into the tank. (“If I have a 20-gallon tank, and I want to fill it half way, how many gallons will I need right now?”) Children love being little helpers, and you’ll love knowing they are using what they learned this year!

Likewise, cooking dinner and following a recipe can turn out to be a great reading and vocabulary lesson. Introduce your child to new food items in the ingredients list and discuss the difference between “thyme,” the herb, and “time” on a clock. Homonyms at home for the win!

Don’t wait for a traditional classroom setting to incorporate learning over the summer. Seize the day wherever you are and whatever you do. The advantage of this method is that it doesn’t take a lot of thought and effort from an already busy parent. Also, most kids will assume you’re only making conversation instead of the intentional lesson you mean it to be.

Learning Through Play

Because playing is already on the agenda for most kids, why not use it to your advantage as another way to foster learning over the summer? There are a host of games kids can play that easily substitute as learning activities.

Several board games out now incorporate matching and memory strategies and skills. Lucky Ducks is a fun game that my kids love playing. Picture Bingo is another game that helps kids squeeze their memory muscles. These are just two of many options from which you can choose for your little ones. If you want to rack up on these games, keep an eye out for Amazon Prime Day to get great savings on these and other board games for kids.

For those kids who can’t bear to tear themselves away from their tablets, there are tons of apps that are reading and math based. A quick search online will bring up various enrichment games for phones and other mobile devices. Always be mindful, though, of the time they spend with their tablets. It is recommended that children spend no more than two hours a day on mobile devices.

Destination Education

Learning over the summer doesn’t take much more effort than what you typically do with your little ones. Most summers involve taking trips, and those would be great opportunities to present educational slants to your child’s summer experiences.

Does your hometown (or your vacation destination) have interesting museums or aquariums? Take advantage of them! Even if your kids have been to them before, most have summer programs that freshen the experience for visitors. My boys have a membership to the local aquarium, and they get invitations to special events frequently. From “Fish Fry” camps to “Parent and Me” events, we explore and learn together as a family, and it also serves as a bonding activity for us all.

Likewise, museums are another great way to extend learning over the summer months. Science and nature museums generally have dozens of small animal and interactive exhibits geared towards children. With features like 4D dinosaur exhibits and chemistry demonstrations, kids are sure to never be bored when they go to visit. Plus, they will leave with a ton of new knowledge they can take with them into the next school year.

Continuing your child’s learning over the summer doesn’t have to consist of more money or effort on your part. All it takes is a little creativity and a realization that virtually any experience can be a learning opportunity. A few intentional activities this summer may be the key to a more successful upcoming school year for your little genius!

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