How to Keep Up Kids’ Academic Skills Over the Summer

Being a former elementary and middle school teacher, I truly know the meaning of the educational summer slump.  It’s very easy for kids to fall back in their reading and math skills while playing all day and hanging around the pool all summer.  Here are some ways you can help to keep your kids’ skills strong (maybe even improving them!):

1.  Read to your child EVERY night (10-20 minutes)

Kids learn by example, and if you set the example that reading is important then it will be for them. Reading on a regular basis correlates to higher test scores and a more extensive vocabulary.  Libraries are a great resource during the summer as well.  Many have summer reading programs with incentives for kids.  Allison Alexander, owner of AMKB, also loves reading to her child and to schools to promote literacy (pictured below reading at an elementary school in East Greenwich, RI).  Lastly, check out what this teacher says about reading nightly.

2.  Play “I Spy” while driving in the car!








This is a fun game you can play with the kids while in the car (and I’ve been spending a lot of time driving on vacations and to and from activities).  Practice letters, colors, shapes, reading, math, etc.  Example: I spy the letter D (Dunkin’ Donuts).  How many do you see?  (2).  I spy a white triangle (sail on the Chelo’s sign).  How many people are on the sign? (4).

3.  Cook with your kids!








Cooking is fun, and kids can learn a lot from measuring, mixing, and baking.  Math and science skills can be practiced by discussing and measuring ingredients, seeing what happens when things are mixed together, learn what different amounts of ingredients can do, and even dividing up amounts (cupcakes into groups).

4.  Buy educational workbooks & utilize educational websites


I like to pick up fun educational books that I find for the kids.  I make it out to be a fun thing, not a chore.  Many good books can be found at Walmart, CVS, Rite Aid, Costco, etc. (or online).  Kids can even use the workbooks to “play school,” and the books are easy to pack for a fun vacation activity.  Also, let kids have some “computer time” to play/learn.  I found some sites I think are educational, as well as having my daughter use a site that was sent home from school for summer practice.

5.  Take your kids on field trips
























If you have a free day in your summer schedule, or if you are out of town on vacation, plan an educational field trip for the kids!  Children’s Museums, Aquariums, Zoos, Nature Centers, and Historic Sites are all great places to take the kids.  While my parents were watching my kids recently, they took them to the Hidden Pond Nature Center and The Air and Space Museum.  My kids found both of them to be so much fun (and very educational).  My kids also love learning about history.  We visited the Smith Castle in North Kingstown, RI recently, and they learned so much!  Field trips are so much fun for the kids;  they don’t even realize they are learning!

6.  Buy educational toys to play with your kids








You can find great educational stores in most towns and cities.  Many of these are individually owned.  I shop at a place called Learn All About It in Warwick, RI.  It is family owned, has many educational activities for kids to participate in at the store, and it carries wonderful educational toys.  Stores like Lakeshore Learning also carry many great toys!  Playing with your kids is one of the greatest things you can do for them.  Kids, especially young kids, need to learn how to play and be imaginative.  Spend 30 minutes a day in engaged play with your child.  Try this at least three times a week!  You will cherish this time and so will they!  Fold the laundry after the kids go to bed,  or wash the dishes later.  This is time you will never get back with your kids.  They grow older each day!  Engaged play helps kids learn, and you can be an part of your child’s educational development.  Remember, this is their summer, so HAVE FUN!!!


* What do you like to do in the summer with your kids?  Do you find educational experiences for them to keep them sharp with their skills?  Here is another great article about summer learning loss.

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Kristin Wheeler

About Kristin Wheeler

Kristin Wheeler is a stay-at-home mom of a 7 year old daughter and 4 year old son. She was previously a teacher for 8 years (in Virginia, Oklahoma, and California). She taught elementary and middle school, with a focus in technology. Kristin received her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and her Master's in Middle School Education from George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Her husband is a professor at The University of Rhode Island.