Although “No more teachers, no more books” may have been coursing through your mind as your kids finished school, the fact is that picking up different kinds of books in the summer can be the best thing you can do for your kids.
“I like the summer workbooks because they go week by week,” says Taylor Kaye, Toronto social media influencer and mom to three girls, aged five, seven and 10. “The girls at first were not loving it, but now they love waking up and doing their summer homework.”
Keeping up with reading, writing and math skills during the summer doesn’t have to be all workbooks, though. Many families will be heading out on road trips — either across the country or just up to the family cottage — and there are many ways to put these skills to use on the open road.
Start a trip journal. Either give the kids their own journal or start a family one, to chronicle your trip or even your whole summer. Kids can take turns making entries (improving their writing skills) and reading the other entries out loud.
Math is everywhere. Although this might frighten some children (and adults), we do use math every day. Have the kids calculate the cost of a tank of gas, cost per litre and per kilometre. Have a contest to figure out how much gas you’ll use to get to your destination and the time it will be when you get there. With younger kids, have them count out napkins at the roadside diner and use simple addition to add up the bill before the server drops it off at the table.
Don’t get upset in the summer if all the kids want to read is comic books or graphic novels. They’re still reading. Try to get them to look at a newspaper with you. Pick up a local paper and read some stories about what’s going on right in front of you.
“We also sign up for the library summer reading program,” says Kaye. “We go once a week to the library and collect books to read. In the summer, I don’t care what it is — they just have to read something.”
Play the alphabet game. An oldie but a goodie, look for consecutive letters of the alphabet on road signs and licence plates.
Crossing the border? Have the kids figure out what their Canadian allowance is worth in the United States or wherever else you travel.
Create a continuous story as a family. One family member can write a word, a sentence or even a chapter that the others have to add on to. Think about the storyline together and put down some rules about the number of bathroom words that can be used. Or not (look what Captain Underpants did on the book-selling charts).
Word search books, crossword puzzles and math games can be found at almost any bookstore. For younger kids, rewards as they complete each puzzle can be a great incentive to keep going.
Scavenger hunts are fun for any age. Although younger kids need pictures as well as words, older kids only need words, and a few of the clues could contain math equations, such as contest winners often face.
“You can do school work in the summer with your kids, but you have to make it fun and you have to be interested in what they are doing,” says Kaye. “I tell them it’s just like sports: if you don’t practise, you can’t be better at it. For now, they are believing me. Talk to me when they are teens.”