Just Let Them Play This Summer for Optimal Learning!

It's summer, and my kids aren't spending their time working on bridge activities to be ready for next year. They aren't practicing math skills to make them smarter and ready for the next grade. They aren't learning anything in a formal sense. But they ARE learning, learning so much more than they would from any activities I could force upon them.

What do you remember about summer? Think back to it for a minute...

Time's Up!

What did you do? I remember riding my bikes with my friends (or by myself), playing baseball with my friends, doing flips on my swingset, playing in the sprinkler, running through the woods, making a "skating rink" and lemonade stand, reading books I wanted to read, watching TV, and the list goes on. Not once did my mom say I had to do any of this. The only thing she told me I had to do was my chores and to be home before dark. Period. That's it! 

Miraculously, my brothers and I turned out OK. 

With my own children, I see a similar philosophy. Since times are different, and they love having their electronics, I have to schedule the electronics time to ensure they get some real learning experiences in at some point. So, what am I teaching them this summer?

Math ~Time Management

While my children are out and about playing, they have to manage their time to have optimal play time. Before they can enjoy their own fun, they have to complete a few chores.
Doing chores before playing helps children understand time management more clearly.

And if they want to play their electronics, which are restricted, they have to decide what time they want to partake in those. For example, my son LOVES playing XBox with his friends, but he has to go on when they are on to enjoy it the most. He has learned the best times to go on and has stuck with it.

Science ~ The World Around Them

I have taken them to many places this summer to help them learn more, especially my five-year-old daughter. Children's museums have been a lifesaver for that. 
Children's museums make a perfect place for children of all ages to learn something new!

But she has also learned so much from her own explorations and fun. When they go outside to play, they learn about not only the wildlife, but the weather and how the outdoors work.
The great outdoors are perfect for learning about the world around them.

The Love of Reading

Both of my children already enjoy reading, but now they get to choose their own books to read. They have found books they enjoy at the library and beyond, even on their own shelves.
Giving children a choice in what they read over the summer will help them gain confidence and reading levels.

Spelling and Art Go Hand in Hand

My daughter loves to play with chalk outside, and she always wants to write what she draws beside it. I tell her the letters of the words, and she writes them. We also work on the letters of the alphabet while we are out there. It gives us some outside time and learning all in one.
Chalk is perfect for drawing and labeling to learn basic words for young children.

Basic skills

My daughter has an art table, which is where she spends most of her time. Going into kindergarten, she needs basic skills such as cutting, holding a pencil, and coloring. This is where she works on those skills. And they have served her well. I am constantly getting art from her to put all over the house.
This art table is full of activities children can do on their own to keep up with basic skills such as cutting, coloring, and writing.

So, my kids aren't required to do workbooks over the summer. They don't have to work on math skills of anything of the like. They just have to enjoy the summer, yet learn at the same time. It has worked beautifully for my children, and they are still ready for school with no summer slide!

And that is why my son says:
Relax a little and let your children enjoy their summer while still learning. They will be ready for next year, even though you're not so sure!

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