6 Things Parents Can Do To Enhance Their Children's Learning During the Summer

Every spring, St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s division directors provide parents and students with resources to help students prepare for the transition to the next grade. Summertime should be a time for relaxation and fun—but it should also be a time for exploration, growth and learning!

Use these tips to ensure your summer is filled with sun, fun and lots of engaging learning activities:

1. LEARN BY DOING


Giving children age-appropriate chores provides consistency and encourages children to follow a routine even though school is out. Chores also teach children to follow multi-step directions. Some examples:


Sort the mail or the laundry
Benefit: These are fun and rewarding tasks for young children that help reinforce organizational skills. An important part of being a successful student is the ability to follow multi-step directions independently, and to recognize patterns and sequences. Sorting the mail provides a three-step task (mailbox, sort, distribute). In the laundry room, young children can be given the job of matching socks or sorting lights from darks. These chores will give your child the added boost of knowing that they are serving an important job for their family.


Pack their camp bag or bag for a family outing
Benefit:
 Planning and sequencing are keys to being a successful student and correlate to skills
like planning an essay and planning how to tackle a math problem. For this task, children need to think through their day or outing and anticipate what they might need. Encourage them to consider the sequence of events—what will happen first? Then what? And then what?

The last and most important part is the follow-through of packing the bag themselves. Parents can help scaffold by asking questions about the day, but should allow children to do it themselves.


Helping to keep track of the family calendar
Benefit
: Builds number skills and sequencing skills. Also helps children to recognize important sight words like the days of the week and months of summer. Children also will start to think ahead and can help to make plans for the days and weeks to come.

2. EXPLORE YOUR NATIVE HABITAT

Children love school field trips—plan your own from home! Take a walk in the neighborhood, or pack a picnic and explore local parks and nature centers. On the Upper West Side of New York, St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s parents take advantage of Riverside Park, Central Park, Wave Hill, and other city parks.

Name flowers, observe what wildlife you see and hear, or learn the history of the park and how it got its name. Have your children bring along a “field guide” and journal (or draw) about their experience.

Use a park map to incorporate map-reading skills and help to orient your child to directional concepts such as North and South.

3. WHAT’S COOKING?

Cooking or baking is a regular part of the early childhood curriculum at St. Hilda's & St. Hugh's because it reinforces a wide variety of developmental skills. It’s also a great activity for families on weekends and during the summer holiday. Socially, children learn cooperation and teamwork, listening, and following multi-step directions. Cooking also gives children a chance to practice counting, measuring, and sequencing—”First we measure the ingredients, then we mix them together,
then we put them in the oven.” Science comes into play, as children can predict and observe what changes will take place during the cooking process. Parents can also introduce cultural lessons about the origins of different recipes.

4. WET AND WISE: BEACH OR POOL FUN

Just because children love to splash doesn't mean they can't be learning in the process. Digging sand castles develops motor skills and helps children observe and experiment with different states of matter. Collecting shells, little children can compare sizes, shapes, and textures, and create patterns using different types of shells or rocks. Swimming lessons are not only great exercise, they teach an
essential life-long skill (and exert lots of energy!).

5. DEAR DIARY

Keeping a summer journal is a great way to practice writing skills learned during the year. Younger children can use inventive spelling or draw pictures to depict the new things they’ve learned or new foods they've tried.

6. PEN PALS

Encourage your child to write letters or postcards to friends and family who live far away. This can be a fun way to keep in touch with classmates they miss. Children can get creative and make their own postcards using index cards.