Promoting Summer as a Time for Family Fun, Bonding AND Learning

It is hard to not be excited at this time of year in New England. As I sit and write this on my deck overlooking the pool, it is a beautiful sunny day – this is the reason many of us choose to wait out our long winters. After this winter in particular we are all ready for a summer filled with fun in the sun and many visits to the beach and the pool. At 11:40 on Wednesday morning I am going to say good-bye to 411 elementary students who are so excited for summer vacation you can feel the excitement building with each passing moment.

As a Principal, I have mixed feelings about summer. Though I relish the time to reflect, rejuvenate and plan for the upcoming school year, I worry about many of my students and the impact this ‘break’ from learning will have on them. This morning while reading read Eric Sheninger’s post, “Combatting the Summer Slide” I was reminded that I need to work on my end of the year communication to the families at my school. The base of that newsletter will come from advice a teacher shared with a parent at a recent meeting.

Throughout the school year this teacher sends home regular emails sharing things families can do together in the area. As a mom of two boys she and her husband (also a teacher) are always looking for things to do as a family that are fun and can foster intellectual development. For example, prior to April vacation, she shared with families that the national parks in the area have a junior ranger program and that admission during the week was free. Not only do I think this is a wonderful way for her to connect with her families on a personal level, I also feel it is an important way for her to model how families can take part in the education of our children!

At the beginning of the summer she takes this advice one step further and shares the following ideas to promote summer as a time of fun, family bonding and learning:

She asks families to set the following minimum expectations for their children:

  • Read out loud 3 times per week, 10 minutes at a time, with an adult or older sibling who can give constructive feedback at the end.
  • Read silently each day for 20-30 minutes. E-books, magazines, and chapter books are all acceptable summer reading material.
  • Write a minimum of two times a week.
  • Play online games that reinforce math concepts 3 times per week.
  • Continue to practice and review math facts.

She then shares the following ideas for how families can incorporate this into the summer routine:

  • Do it first thing in the morning.  Read while eating breakfast.  Take 10 minutes to go online and do a review game.  If it is scheduled in before the rest of the day happens, it is more likely to occur.
  • Type emails to friends and family.
  • Create a summer journal or blog to catalog the families adventures.
  • Cook and bake by following recipes.
  • At the ice cream stand, ask your child to estimate the total.
  • In the car, ask math facts or basic spellling words.
  • Play board games, such as Quarkle, Blokus, Scrabble.
  • Play games like Hangman.
  • Play online or computer games like Wheel of Fortune.
  • Read at the pool or the beach.  Read in the car.  Read at the doctor’s office.
  • Parents can read harder books out loud and then help build comprehension by asking questions.
  • Audio books downloaded on an ipod are a great way to build comprehension.
  • Visit the library as part of the weekly routine.

And perhaps my all-time favorite way to encourage summer as a time for family fun, bonding and learning:

Go to Barnes and Noble or Borders for a frozen drink and a chance to just sit and read.

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Beth Wittcoff
    Jun 26, 2011 @ 12:25:54

    Hey Julie,
    You forgot the great word game Quiddler! Play lots of Quiddler. some great ideas on how to keep kids reading.

    Reply

  2. Jeff Raybon
    Jul 03, 2011 @ 22:40:17

    I enjoyed your post. Thanks for the tips on how to incorporate fun into summer learning. I have one child still in elementary school so I’ll start trying some of this tomorrow. Thanks a lot.

    Reply

  3. kAYLA sANDIFER
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:04:54

    Hello! I am Kayla Sandifer a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. This is a great blog post about involving learning into your summer! We all know that kids forget everything they have learned the previous year when summer starts! This is a great way to get children to stay at their plateau of reading when they leave school and also make their reading better over the summer so they are kind of ahead! I think the activities you gave families to do were very easy and I think that is very important. I think activities for children at home have to be realistic because parents work and they have other priorities to deal with. They also do not have/know a lot of the resources they can need or can use for some activities. I think this is a great blog post and I will surely use this when in my future classroom.

    Reply

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