By Teresa Egener
Your 3 to 6-year-old has acquired lots of wonderful skills and knowledge during the school year, and there are some fun ways the keep that learning alive over the summer.
Consider setting up a low shelf where your child’s activities have a place, thereby offering easily accessible choices for independent play: neatly organized materials for art, sewing, collections (rocks, other objects from nature). Also consider incorporating these meaningful tasks that encourage independence and foster the value of joyful learning and community:
- Work in the garden (planting, watering, weeding, harvesting fruits and veggies)
- Wash the car, the pet, the dishes or the laundry
- Help to cook a family meal, and clean up after
Incorporate fun activities that isolate the 5 senses, such as a trip to the Rose Garden (smelling!); try new ethnic foods or visiting a farmer’s market to sample different varieties of berries and seasonal fruits (tasting!); take a notebook along on a hike and record different textures – bark, stone, leaves, grasses – (touch!); on a walk or hike, take photos that capture interesting discoveries in nature (sight!); attend and outdoor concert and discuss the instruments and rhythms and other nuances of the music (hearing!).
- When riding in the car, carry note pads and pencils to count bird sightings, yellow cars, stops signs… or anything else that might be fun to count!
- Make a monthly calendar for the months of June, July and August. Use it to record fun family events, weather observations, or anything else that your child wants to record.
- Keep numbers alive in conversations. “How many eggs do we need for French toast?” “How may spoons will we need to set the table?” “How many insects did we spy on our walk?”
Your children have been learning the phonetic sounds associated with the letter names in preparation for reading and writing. One favorite game at school is called “Bring Me” and is also fun to play at home. The adult asks the child, “Please bring me 3 things that begin with the sound S (sssss).” The child might bring soap, a sock and a sand dollar. Most children love to repeat this game again and again. It’s also fun to keep a journal where lists of unfamiliar words can be recorded. If your child is writing, let them record; if not, the adult can record the word and the child can draw a picture to illustrate it. That same journal might come with you on hikes, to record interesting new sights in nature.
If your child is a reader, write them fun messages on post-it notes hidden around the house – the notes should reflect their comfort level with reading (from simple three-letter phonetic to longer, more complex words). Remember to read aloud every day!
Summer is a time for fun and togetherness! Have fun learning and discovering together!