My little guy has just finished preschool and now attends summer camp at the same place. He’s also gone from 3 days a week to 5 days a week in preparation for kindergarten in September – eeek! Where do the years go? He is always on the move, singing, dancing, reciting his ABC’s and being what I thought was just a normal 4.5 year old – thriving, learning, soaking everything in. So I was super surprised when I started hearing about summer loss of knowledge and particularly how by the time kids return to school in September, their teachers will need to spend the first 4-6 weeks reteaching what they already learnt the previous year. Wow.
While we’ve had this heatwave, I can see how easy it can be to just loaf around and do nothing when there is a heat advisory to stay inside from 9AM to 9PM. Mr 4.5 was off for the week that we reached high 90s and we lay low with little Miss 8 months. I have to admit, with work to do, and heat-induced brain fog and lethargy, it was almost too easy to just plop him down in front of the TV for long stints.
Instead, I’ve made the conscious decision to search out the teachable moments in everyday life.
Even with the heat, we have managed to get out to the park, hit the sprinklers, run the track (he loves to run), swim and go for walks. The fact that there is evidence kids also gain weight in the summer is a statistic I do not want our family to be part of. We make sure to get outside everyday even if its just the walk to camp. On our recent quick trip to Montreal, we even staged a 72 hour Summer Olympics, celebrating his achievements along the way.
I’m also always working on new ways for us to keep his brain (and body) engaged even when we are inside. Here are a few of the ways we find teachable moments, but most importantly have fun…because after all, it is summer!
Mr. 4.5 actually dug this one up and besides being fun to play we also go over shapes, colors, left and right while playing. Word to the Mamas and Papas out there, you might want to stretch before playing
Turn off the TV, read a book or two and recreate the images
Having him draw new images for a book we have just read together is an interesting exercise. It’s so interesting to see his imagination at work. Great for comprehension, literacy and spending time together.
Revisit what he already knows
Because I helped him do homework 2 times a week, I know what new concepts his teachers have taught him. I try to bring them up in everyday life so not only does he retain this knowledge, but so he can actually build on it and understand the real life application. Sometimes its a game, like tic tac toe to go over the concepts of “horizontal” , “diagonal” and “vertical”, sometimes its just talking something through, grabbing that teachable moment.
Here he is practicing the song he had to sing at preschool graduation. The fact that it is associated with graduation also makes us discuss the future and what he wants to be when he grows up.
Going over the day and date as well as weather is a great way to practice writing and simple everyday concepts. I’m also trying to get better at asking him about the best part of his day. This sometimes brings up big elaborate stories and at times just a simple answer. Whatever he says doesn’t matter as much as the art of conversation and watching his little face light up as he weaves his tale.
Make use of Cultural attractions
Embrace teachable moments over the summer. It is one thing that most New York City parents agree they love about New York – endless museums, science centers, zoos, big buildings and Libraries to explore. We visited the New York Aquarium on pay-what-you-want Friday and checked out the penguins and heaps of fishies. We talked about who swims, who flies, what environments the animals live in and I learnt a thing or 2 myself along the way. Walking and exploring your city is also a great way to have fun while learning in the summer.
Car and subway travel ideas
With summer also comes more travel in cars and on buses and subways for some families. We’re planning small getaways and already we are getting around the city more than we did in winter. That’s when we bust out old fave car games like “I Spy”. What kiddo doesn’t love that game?
Weight gain in summer is surprisingly also an issue. Find out how we keep active in this house.
What’s your plan to combat summer knowledge loss?