By – Stephanie Dua and Keith Meacham
The days are getting longer. End-of-school rituals are winding down, and grandparents everywhere are looking forward to some quality time with their grandchildren.
Your grown children probably greet the summer months with a mixture of relief (Ahh, no more lunches to pack at 6 a.m.) and anxiety (Will my daughter’s brain turn to mush?). You play that critical role in helping your grown children get some perspective (your brain never turned to mush!)
You can also play a role in making sure the summer months are filled with learning.
As education experts, we are often asked our advice about how to keep kids reading all summer long. We’ve all heard about the proverbial “summer brain drain,” with kids losing months of learning over the summer months only to find themselves behind in September. Not to despair. There are some simple, and fun, ways to add real learning value to your summer routines with your grandchildren:
Here we’d like to offer a few simple tips to keep kids learning even in these lazy days of summer:
- Read to your grandchild every day!: Reading aloud to a child, even after he or she is a fluent reader, is one of the most important things any grandparent can do to cultivate a love of reading and encourage children to become lifelong readers.
- Make a family scrapbook or journal: Take pictures of the whole family. Once or twice a week, get everyone together to write or dictate a caption under favorite photos. Then read through earlier entries. Leave the book out where anyone can browse through it and recall the best parts of the summer. Grandparents can share photographs of their own childhood summers to create a generational scrapbook. This allows children to practice writing and storytelling in a fun way.
- Create a children’s book with your grandchildren. Even very young children love to tell stories, and with a grandparent’s guiding hand, they can turn those stories into a book! There are lots of online services that allow children to write, illustrate and publish their own stories. Scribble Press is one of our favorites!
- Play a reading a game a day: Make reading into a game. On Monday you might go on a word search in the supermarket. See who can be the first person to find the word chocolate in five different places. On Tuesday, make a tic tac toe board but put words in the cells. Play as usual but before you place a mark, you must read the word. Wednesday could be playground day where you and your grandchildren make signs with the names of the playground equipment and then you have your children match the word to the item at the Playground. The possibilities for reading games are endless! Make some up on your own!
- Remember, it is equally important to give children time to explore the world independently with no agenda. Plan a campout in the backyard and spend the night stargazing. Who knows? Maybe learning the names of the constellations will spark an interest in the Greek myths, or even space travel.
Whether it’s grandparents reading with their children or children reading themselves, research shows that families who immerse themselves in reading reduce the risk of “summer brain drain” and fend off the proverbial “Summer Slide” parents fear so much.
Here’s hoping your summer is filled with an abundance of good books!