Edited by Lisa Gavitt
There are still several weeks left of summer, and you may be worrying that your children are losing some of the academic gains they made at school. While summer learning loss, a.k.a. the “summer slide,” is a real challenge, there are many things parents can do to promote ongoing learning disguised in a fun way. Here are some ideas from two of our staffers at Hillsides Education Center, therapist Jill Anderson and parent partner Georgie Norris. Some of them take a little planning; others you can do on the fly.
- Turn Driving Time into Learning Time If you’re on a long driving trip, playing car games will sharpen your kids’ wits while staving off boredom. Try finding letters of the alphabet to complete license plate Bingo or else, have one child pick an animal (tiger) and the other use the last letter to name another animal (rat).
- Create an I’m Bored Bag Fill a bag with things kids can do that are fun but take brain power, such as spelling quizzes, Sudoku puzzles, flashcards, and creative writing prompts. Then when your child comes to you for the hundredth time saying “I’m bored,” you can refer them to the bag.
- Stay Active Studies conducted on children revealed that aerobic exercise stimulates brain growth and cognitive performance, leading to better focus and higher achievements. Here are some fun ways to keep your kiddos on the move this summer:
- Take a mindfulness hike together and make note of all the things you see, hear, and feel. It can also be fun to create your own scavenger hunt. A few local hikes to try: https://mommypoppins.com/lakids/10-best-los-angeles-area-hikes-with-kids
- Cool off in a swimming pool with endless hours of games and excitement. Games to check out: https://www.babble.com/kid/17-swimming-pool-games-for-kids-this-summer/
- Try a new sport. How about Frisbee golf or Pickle ball?
- Sign the family up for a 5K. The Summer Breeze 5K is coming up on July 29 in Santa Monica. You can enter here: http://www.abetterworldrunning.com/summer-breeze-72918-sm
- Read, Read, Read This one might sound like a given, but it is necessary to be reminded of just how important reading is while away from the classroom. Numerous studies indicate that students who read infrequently or not at all during their summer vacation see their reading abilities plateau or decline The key here is having your child select books they are interested in and encourage reading for pleasure. If you have a resistant reader, you can try reading together or encouraging them with some outdoor playtime afterward. Parents who read for pleasure themselves are also very influential. After all, you are their greatest example! For a list of summer book ideas, check out the recommendations from our Hillsides Librarian: https://hillsidescommunity.wordpress.com/2018/06/15/eighteen-top-book-picks-for-summer-2018/
- Don’t be Afraid of Technology IPads and tablets can be your friend when keeping your children’s minds stimulated, plus there are a plethora of free educational online programs and apps available. Here are a few to try:
- Experience and Explore New Places Whether traveling on vacation or adventuring around your own city, experiencing something new is proven to form new connections in the brain. Los Angelenos are fortunate to have access to countless museums, parks, and aquariums, so take advantage! Visiting new places fosters opportunities for teachable moments and gets kids asking questions and wondering about new things. Here are some cost-friendly family favorites:
- The Getty Museum- Garden Concerts for Kids (weekends in August) http://www.getty.edu/education/kids_families/programs/garden_concerts.html
- The Griffith Observatory – It’s open every day except Mondays and it’s free. http://griffithobservatory.org/
- The Huntington Library- Admission for children under four is free, plus the Huntington is running a weekend Family Botanical Art Program through August 27. http://www.huntington.org/WebAssets/Templates/calendardetail.aspx?id=25385&utm_source=google_ad_grants&utm_medium=text_ad&utm_campaign=botanical_art&utm_term=marketing_lukens&utm_content=text_ad_174
- Kidspace Children’s Museum- Free Family Night (first Tuesday of every month 4-8pm) http://www.kidspacemuseum.org/
- Cabrillo Marine Aquarium- Admission for kids is only $1 ($5 for adults). Also check out the upcoming Family Sand Castle Building Day on Saturday, July 28. https://www.cabrillomarineaquarium.org/events-news.asp
- Skirball Cultural Center. The Center has many kid-friend exhibits, such as the current Jim Henson Exhibition running until September 2. Tickets are free on Thursdays https://www.skirball.org/