Summer holidays are supposed to be a break from school and the routine. We all want our children to have fun, play outside and enjoy the long, sunny, halcyon days like we did as children. But plenty of research over recent years has shown that children’s maths and literacy unfortunately do suffer over the long holidays so here are six fun activities that parents can do with their children to help reduce the Summer Learning Loss.
- Reading: Encouraging children to read is a great way to keep literacy skills up. Books can be read by the pool, in the garden or propped up in bed on a lazy day and now children have access to all types of e-readers there’s no excuse. E-books can easily be downloaded free from libraries and during the summer holidays local libraries run a Summer Reading Challenge which encourages children to read 6 books over the 6 weeks and collect free stickers and other rewards along the way.
- Playing Games: Children love playing games and family board games in particular encourage some face to face contact over the holidays. Some board games have been proven to improve your whole family’s skills in English or Maths and children don’t even realise that they are learning. Research carried out by independent specialist, Askyourstaff, showed that families who played the board game PLYT, at least once a week over a six week period, saw their maths improve by an average of 27%. This is great for parents to sharpen their skills too and board games are ideal for playing on a sunny day in the garden or a wet one in the tent.
- Get fit for summer: We all know the benefits of a healthy body and a healthy mind but studies have shown that physical exercise can boost children’s learning and help their cognitive development. If your children are reluctant to venture away from their screens to the vast outdoors, plan a picnic at a local park that you can walk to and have a few games planned such as hide and seek, treasure hunts, quick cricket etc to get them active. If there are any potential Andy Murrays out there, the LTA are offering free tennis coaching for 5-8 year olds. Checkout the website https://clubspark.lta.org.uk/ to find your local courses. Of course if the British weather is not so kind, welly walks can also be great fun!
- Visit a museum: There are over 50 National Museums across the UK offering fabulous free learning resources to everyone. The museums are genuinely family focused and children love exploring the various exhibits, many of them “hands on”, whilst learning along the way. You could even choose a museum that features a subject that you child has covered at school or is likely to study in the next school year. Plus, many museums run special events over the summer break including arts and crafts to keep any younger children entertained. A great day out for the whole family.
- Write a story: The BBC’s “500 words” competition is hugely successful with children creating some wonderful imaginative stories. You could have your own 500 words competition and encourage children to write their own masterpiece. Why not watch the brilliant Coldplay Up&Up video for some inspiration for your children? Not only will this get their creative juices flowing it will also help their writing skills and if they share their stories around and discuss each others, it can really encourage reading and evaluation.
- A Great Summer Bake Off: Mary Berry has helped create a wonderful nation of young bakers. Children love baking and it’s a great way to get them to follow instructions and practice their maths using weights and measures. Encourage children to find an easy child friendly recipe – either online or in a recipe book – and then allow them to get messy whilst baking it. They love the fact that they can taste as they go along and their results will hopefully be delicious – you can be the judge! And don’t forget to tell your children that cleaning up is part and parcel of being a chef!
So you don’t need to allow your children to have a summer slump but it doesn’t have to be onerous. You can still have a great fun holiday without them (or you) realising they are learning.