Once the weather warms up, the last day of school and the start of summer break are at the forefront of kids' minds. They want to focus on having fun and forget about school, which can lead to the dreaded "summer slide"—a loss of learning skills over the break. That's why it's vital to find educational but fun activities that will keep kids off their screens and keep them invested in learning.
When kids get bored or unmotivated to learn in the summer, it can set them back when they return to school in the fall. Fortunately, there are ways to help keep your kids learning—without classes or homework—to set them up for success once school starts again.
Here are some fun ways to keep kids learning in the summer. You might even have fun yourself!
Visit a nature center or park
One great way to keep kids learning in the summer is by hitting up your local nature center, taking a hike, or setting off on a road trip to a national park. Engaging with the great outdoors allows kids and families to explore in a way they might not be able to in their backyards. Your kids will be able to interact with (or observe) animals, insects and plants, and they'll have the opportunity to learn about science and nature.
Nature centers are also a great way to teach kids about conservation and what it means to be a steward of the environment. If you're interested in raising eco-conscious citizens, use your nature trip to kickstart more kid-friendly environmental activities throughout the summer. You could start your own compost bin in the backyard, dig out a patch of garden to grow vegetables together, or take litter-collecting walks in your local community.
Take a day trip to a children's museum
Children's museums are designed with kids in mind, and they allow little ones to engage with the exhibits and be themselves without being confined to their best behavior. Whether you have a toddler or a teenager, children's museums offer something for everyone.
Nearly all the exhibits in a children's museum are interactive, adding another learning dimension to the experience. If you have older children, you can take them to an art or history museum, as well. You'll be surprised at how much information they soak in — guided tours and museum events make the experience more interesting for everyone. Plus, museums offer a rich educational experience that schools sometimes can't provide.
Get them involved in the community library
Community libraries often hold summer events for children and provide a learning environment while school is out. Maybe you can take your kids to storytime once a week, or perhaps they'll want to get involved in a book club for kids their age. They'll learn to love and appreciate how much a story can bring words to life.
Some libraries even have annual summer reading programs that reward kids for tracking how many books and pages they've read over the summer. Reading regularly can boost comprehension, reading, vocabulary and writing skills, setting children up for a great school year in the fall. Plus, they might make a few new friends.
Send them to a day camp
Day camps allow your kids to interact with other children in the community while continuing to learn over the summer. Counselors do the hard work for you by coming up with games and learning activities that will engage kids on all levels. Plus, they offer you schedule flexibility and child care if you're working through the summer.
You can choose to send your kids to a day camp, weeklong getaway or even an all-summer event. In addition to helping avoid summer slide, camp teaches your kids crucial life skills like problem-solving, teamwork, communication and responsibility. Camp environments can also expose children to more diverse settings than they might experience in their schools, encouraging them to become comfortable and respectful of diversity and inclusivity.
Do science experiments at home
Kids love science experiments, especially ones that make a mess. A quick search online will turn up hundreds of do-it-yourself activities. They often involve reading instructions, carefully measuring materials and recording results, which develops skills like patience, mathematical thinking, problem-solving and reading comprehension. In addition to being fun, hands-on activities like science experiments can help kids remember what they learned along the way.
Whether you make a bottle rocket, create a volcano, or inspect bugs and plants in your backyard, your kids will be learning about STEM. These fun summer learning activities for kids could kickstart a lifelong love of science—or just offer them an exciting way to engage with hands-on learning.
Start a summertime journal or scrapbook
Do you sometimes wish you could pause time and remember every moment you spend with your kids? A journal or scrapbook can preserve important memories and also give children a creative task to focus on. Have your kids start a journal or scrapbook to record all your summer adventures. They can add regular entries, documenting their favorite parts of the day and what they learned. This kind of task will help them focus and learn how to write better over time, all while providing you with a keepsake for the future.
Scrapbooking is a great learning activity, too. Your little ones can learn how to use scissors and glue, and they'll tap into their creative side. Maybe they'll even continue to turn to art as an emotional outlet and means for self-expression, which can be incredibly valuable for the rest of their lives.