School's out. It's the time of year that was once reserved for kids to help their on their family farms to maintain and pull in the crops. Now, it's a time of leisure, play and (with any luck) visits to the grandparents. However, research shows that kids lose ground academically during the summer months unless they use the skills they learn in school throughout the year. Some studies suggest that the loss is up to three months of in-classroom work. That's where a parent, grandparent, favorite uncle or close family can make a real difference in a child's education. And it doesn't have to be in a classroom.
Get Them Out of the House
Local libraries often have summer reading programs for kids of all ages; so sign them up now. It's a low-cost activity that can be fun for adults and children. Some libraries offer contests and allow the whole family to sign up. And with books in hand, you can work with a child to read them. Create a routine that includes 30 minutes of reading before bed or after lunch if you're helping with day care.
For older children, you might consider issuing a book challenge. Who can read the most books over the summer? Or join them in your City Reads program. Over the summer many library systems pick one book and encourage the entire city to read that book. Often, there are events associated with a City Reads program too. Your local library will have details.
Museums are another way to stimulate the mind of a child. Encourage them to ask questions and ask them questions about what they see. In some larger museums there is curriculum available designed especially to engage children in the exhibits. Call or visit the website of your local museum to see what they have available.
Buy Them Books for the Summer
Live too far away from the kids in your life? Buy them books for the summer. Get the same books for yourself and then spend 20 minutes on the phone reading with them. They want your undivided attention and you want them to be stronger readers. It's a win-win.
Local nonprofits, like AARP Experience Corps and Boys and Girls Clubs often provide free books to students in their programs over the summer too. Make sure to ask the children in your life what they are planning to read over the summer and if they have any new books. Ask them to read those books with you. That can be done over the phone, video chat or in person.
The bottom line? You can have a role in helping the kids in your life be prepared for school in the fall ... and have fun doing it.
Photo credit: Svadilfari via Flickr.
Also of Interest
- Building a Story - The Roles of Authors and Illustrators
- Games for 50+: Grandparents and Grandchildren Find Adventure, Build Memories
- Join AARP: Savings, resources and news for your well-being
See the AARP home page for deals, savings tips, trivia and more