Miller: Keep learning, having fun this summer


Schools are out for summer, but kids need to keep learning! In spite of routine changes and a different daytime setting, children can still be exposed to different activities that will help keep their academic skills sharp. As parents, there are many fun things you can do with your child to help maintain and grow what they know.

It is very important that your child continue reading. Allow them to choose books that hold an interest for them, whether that be fiction or nonfiction. Comic books are fun, too! A better focus will be had if the book is of interest to them. Depending on their age and ability, you might do all the reading, you may share the reading, or your child may do all the reading. Help sound out difficult words. Enjoy a good story together and make sure to ask questions about the story to help with comprehension. The Hancock County Public Library and other city libraries have summer reading programs that are of interest to children because not only do they involve reading, but also prizes and fun shows.

Another time to read is while you are in the car. The A-B-C game is always a favorite with the younger set. Signs and billboards can be read aloud. Books are good entertainment, regardless of the length of the car trip. If you are traveling, let your child look at a map and help determine the route. These types of activities not only help with reading, but also with traffic, direction and geography skills.

Math is another important skill to practice, and which can also be fun. Practice with plastic numbers on the refrigerator. Add up numbers while in the grocery store. Figure out price differences. Have kids figure out if they have enough money to buy something they want… and if they do, let them buy it. Even younger children know about using graphs, so help them make bar graphs about different things. Let them figure out the number of minutes before they are going somewhere.

Cooking is an enjoyable way to practice math. Using measuring cups can demonstrate the differences in measurement. Asking questions like, “If a recipe serves five people, how many people will two recipes serve?” will also reinforce simple math skills.

People skills are something that is important to be taught year-round. Teaching children to be kind, to be a good listener, to be a good sport, and to do things for others are all important life skills. During the school year, children are taught different ways to calm down strong emotions and then how to problem solve. Ask them to teach you what they know and then use those when feelings run high.

Explore the world. Walk through the forest, look at lightning bugs, listen to different bird calls, feel the rain. All these are fun activities, but also give knowledge of nature to your child. Research things that you have seen to learn even more. Check out Pinterest for ideas for fun art projects using nature items. Being outside can also be a way to stay physically active. City parks are a great place to run and play.

Writing is easily practiced by writing out grocery lists, sending a note to grandma, making a list to take on vacation. A child’s sense of worth will improve when they feel they are being helpful or kind.

Learning is a never-ending process. Children can be exposed to a variety of things during the summer, have fun, and keep them prepared for the next school year.

Terry Miller, a licensed clinical social worker, is a school social worker at Weston Elementary School in Greenfield.