How to Keep Learning Alive Over the Summer

Summer is a great time for rest and relaxation, both for your child and the school community! However, you don’t want all your child’s valuable knowledge to shrink or disappear over the course of these months. Here are five ways to keep learning alive through the summer, without textbooks or schoolwork.

1. Read for fun

Some schools may require summer reading lists or projects to complete before the fall. Outside these assignments, encourage your child to find reading material that he enjoys. This may be easier for some students than others, depending on their level of engagement with reading itself. Help jump-start this process by researching award-winning or niche interest lists online, and visit your local library. The librarian can help, and sometimes there are even summer reading challenges that offer prizes upon completion. Especially if your child doesn’t like to read, exposing him to different genres can help widen what he thinks of as “reading.” These less-than-mainstream genres can include comics, poetry, and fan fiction. Reading is a great way for students to improve fluency and vocabulary, increase comprehension skills, and learn more about the world around them.

2. Do DIY projects and crafts

Creative projects are excellent ways to pass time during the summer while also building skills of problem-solving and innovation. Depending on your child’s interests, look into different DIY projects that she could get into. Would she like conducting a science experiment, learning how to knit, or directing a short film, for example? There are ways you could connect these projects to an interest or activity your child already appreciates, like learning to bake a cake if she likes sweet treats. Also consider which of your own skills and hobbies you could share with your child, as well as the skills of older siblings, cousins, or baby-sitters your child might spend time with this summer.

3. Go on field trips

Plan some field trips that you could take your child on. Look into what’s available in your community or within a reasonable travel radius like the zoo, an aquarium, museums, or community centers that are doing interesting local work—many of which have free or reduced admission for students! Don’t forget the park as well, where students can explore the outdoors and being in nature. Check your local newspaper or community newsletter for events, workshops, or movies in the parks that are especially geared toward kids. Additionally, if your family is traveling out of town, have your child do some research on the destination so he will be able to learn something new and get more out of the trip.

4. Attend camps for summer enrichment

Camps are one way for students to tap into the spirit of learning without the structure of school. There are traditional outdoor camps, as well as camps that have a special focus, like musical theater, 3D modeling and printing, or story writing. They come in all shapes and sizes: one week to months long, sleep-away or day camps, strictly or partially academic, etc.

5. Utilize online resources

Whether you’re a tech-savvy person or not, the Internet has an abundance of resources that your child can take advantage of. You might want to do an online search of educational games, video tutorials, or reading programs that can be accessed by computer, tablet, or phone—whatever is the preferred medium for you and your child. You could also look into shows or documentaries that would teach your child something new and that may be related to an interest of hers.

Summer can be a daunting yet exciting time for you and your child. It may help to create a routine or schedule around these activities, but at the same time, stay open to trying new ideas, as some may fail or fade with time. In any case, tap into your community—friends, family, and your child’s friends—to see what works for them and to do any activities together.   

Lisa Low

Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.