By Teachers, For Teachers
As you wave goodbye to the last smiling face, eager for the joys of summer vacation, that lingering thought in the back of your mind may give you pause — how much learning will those kids lose over the summer? While your students will be moving onto a new teacher and a new classroom, you still feel connected and want to ensure that they don’t lose everything they’ve learned. Here are some ideas, including writing activities, you can share with parents to help them keep their children learning through the fun months of summer.
Do you ever feel like there is not enough time in the school day to get in all of the writing activities you want? Then urge your parents to get the kids writing through the summer. One way to do this is to have them keep a summer journal. If you know the teacher they will have next year, collaborate and tell the kids to bring their journal to the first day of school when they return. Your last gift to them could be a notebook to use for summer journaling.
You can also encourage communication with you. Give each child a stamped postcard addressed to you, and ask them to write to you about their summer activities. You might end up with some keepsakes as a result. If you have set up a classroom blog and can ensure that it is secure, consider allowing the students to continue blogging through the summer months.
Whether playing a board game with instructions that need to be read or reading the back of the cereal box, the opportunities to read during day-to-day activities at home are endless. Remind parents of the importance of reading during the summer, and give them a list of ideas of times when their kids can be reading.
Geocaching is a real-world opportunity to learn about math, science and social studies, and kids really get into the hunt. Find your local geocaching information, and pass it out to your parents. While it will require the investment in a GPS unit or a GPS smartphone app, many parents will love the opportunity to start a family tradition. Your students will return with tales of hunts taking them all over the community, and they will pick up on map-reading skills in the process.
As a teacher, you know the immense value of the summer reading program, but have your students and their parents embraced it? If not, go to the local library and grab a stack of flyers to send home with your class. Encourage the parents to sign their kids up, because every kid will want to read to earn incentives and prizes, and many libraries have additional programming to help keep kids learning and help stave off boredom.
Sending the kids outside can feel like a way out for parents who are tired of hearing how bored their kids are, but in reality it is an opportunity for kids to learn and be active at the same time. When they are outdoors, kids must find their own playthings. They often meet up with neighbors for impromptu games, making up rules and learning to play fair to keep everyone involved. Remind the parents that spending time outdoors can and should be a major part of their summer activities, and that parents do not always need to be part of these outdoor activities.
A bird feeder is a small investment for most family budgets, but it can bring huge rewards in scientific discovery through the summer. Send home a field guide of local birds (you can print one off the Internet), and encourage the parents to make or buy a bird feeder to see how many of the birds they can spot over the summer. You might find you have a budding naturalist in your class as a result.
Summer is fleeting, and kids (and teachers) should be having fun — but fun doesn't mean that all learning has to stop. With these fun summer learning activities, your students' parents can be prepared for an active, engaged summer.
About the author:
David Reeves is the Marketing Director of Superior Recreational Products (SRP) in Carrollton, GA. Grounds For Play (http://www.groundsforplay.com/), a division of SRP, has a focus on designing play environments that provide challenging mental and physical exercises for specific age groups. GFP play environments are used in schools, day care centers, housing complexes and more.