I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend and his blog today! YES! That’s right, friends. It’s a DAD blog! Craig is a teacher and blogger by day; husband and daddy by night and I know you’re going to love him! He’s an all around funny and smart guy. Our family and Craig’s family are in small group together. He volunteers in the Kid’s Club at church. He works at the Great American Ball Park, too. He’s a busy dude. You’ve got to check out his blog, The Bug’s World. He gives Dad Pro Tips at the end of each post. It’s great! Here’s one of my favorite posts. If anyone is qualified to give tips how to keep the kidlets learning during the summer, it’s him. He would be thrilled if you followed him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! (I’m still talking him into Pinterest.) 🙂
Take it away Craig!
Have your kids ever experienced the summer slide? You know how it is. They play all summer long then forget everything they learned in school the previous year. Their teachers will never say it out loud, but they wonder what (if anything) was accomplished the year before since all the kids can’t seem to remember anything of educational value. As a teacher, I know first hand that the summer slide is not cool.
Let me tell you how we combat the summer slide in our home.
First, let start with the mundane. While we prefer the activities I’ll mention later in this post, you can’t deny that there are certain building blocks to learning. They aren’t the most fun parts of learning, but they are necessary. It’s like eating vegetables. Nobody really enjoys it (unless there are copious amounts of butter and cheese on them), but we all know they are essential parts of our nutrition. Each year, we buy a Summer Bridge book to help review the basics and help give our daughter a glimpse into the next year. She does roughly two pages a day. We also work on math flash cards daily. My wife separated her cards into daily doses, so all we have to do is grab the set for the current day, and we’re off! Some days she enjoys it and tackles it like a boss. Other days, it’s worse than a dentist visit.
We also utilize the iPad for her math skills. Splash Math is a good basic skills app. When she fell in love with the free version, I knew I needed to buy the first grade pack for $10. Each day, she spends 15-25 minutes on the app to continue to reinforce those skills she learned over the past school year. I like Splash Math because it engages her. Each level is just enough practice to review the skill but it’s not overkill. She periodically wins a new pet to put in her virtual zoo or aquarium and can spend time playing with the. (I think she has 5 elephants in there already.) I also have a free parent app so I can keep an eye on her progress.
We also enrolled her in special camps. The Bug was invited to a special class at her school. She learned about Eric Carle and his works and loved it! The next week, she did Zoo Camp at the Cincinnati Zoo and learned a lot about animals of different stripes and categories. Both those camps were a big hit!
However, as an educator, I’m try to be about engaging students with their personal interests and passions. Let’s face it. A massive percentage of what students learn in school is exactly what they are told to learn in school. I love it when I can give my students the freedom to learn topics or skills that interest them. (Check out Genius Hour if this paragraph got your enthusiasm rolling.) I love to apply this concept to summer learning.
We started The Bug’s Summer of Learning last year, when we realized that we needed to give her space to learn the what interests her. Last year’s summer of learning was all about science topics — oceans, volcanoes, rain forests, and the like. This year, she wants to learn about history. We’ll tackle topics like the Underground Railroad, Civil War, and Civil Rights Movement. And, yes. My seven year old did pick these topics.
We are wrapping up the Underground Railroad today, so let me tell you some things we’ve done to spark her learning.
- Books — Lots of books! I got a huge stack of books out of the library and left them with her other books. She looks through them as she desires, but we also read some of the books together to talk about the topics as well.
- Videos — I got a video about Harriet Tubman out of the library. I think the video is just OK. The Bug loves it and has voluntarily watched it every day!
- Crafts — In the picture below, I attempted to make a special hiding place out of a big box. In the end, we made a smaller box for her to hide her stuffed animals in, just like Henry “Box” Brown hid in a box while being mailed to Philadelphia.
- Apps — I hopped on the app store and found a few apps that applied to our topic. Most were free, so it wasn’t a big deal if one was a bomb. I did pay a dollar for one app, but it was a dollar well spent. She loves the app as she tries to escape to Canada and ultimate freedom.
- Field Trip — We took a day and drove to Maysville, Kentucky, where we toured a small Underground Railroad museum. On the way home, we stopped at Ripley, Ohio, where saw the John Rankin House, a very famous Underground Railroad station.
- PowerPoint — I actually taught my just-out-of-kindergarten daughter how to make a PowerPoint last summer. She loved it! Kids are highly motivated to do adult-like things on computers, and I firmly believe that technology should exist to create, not just consume. She uses the computer to create a couple slides for each learning topic.
Now, please don’t get me wrong here. Our summer is not focused completely on learning. We still take time to go to a pool or play at a park. As I type this, she’s messing around in her kiddie pool in the backyard. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to keep your kid’s brain working through the summer, and you’ll love the benefits in the fall.
Here are some pro tips to help you get started.
- Spend time on the basics each day, but don’t got too bogged down.
- Ask your kid what he or she wants to learn about, then run after it.
- Have fun with it. Learn along with your kid. Be creative.
- Make memories. Our field trip was a great time to be together and have fun together. A picnic lunch is always a great touch.