Summer break is great, but what mom isn't still looking for some way to keep her kids' brains engaged while school is out? That's where summer learning activities for kids come in.
You get it, right? We moms aren't looking to torture our kids with piles of school assignments. Our goal is simple–avoiding summer slide, especially summer slide in reading ability.
What are some exciting ways to keep kids learning over the summer, especially for families who have a busy summer schedule planned?
These really fun (and dare I say, painless?) kids summer learning activities are a great place to start.
Summer Learning Loss Statistics
Wait a minute. Isn't it supposed to be a good thing to let our kids take a mental break from their studies over the summer?
Well, yes and no. While a little bit of a break is a good thing, studies show that kids who abandon learning over summer break can get significantly behind academically in the long run.
Check out these summer learning loss statistics. Imagine how a few summer learning activities for kids really could make a difference for our students!
- Students routinely score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they did just a few months earlier, with low-income and at-risk students seeing the biggest drops.
- Summer learning loss isn't a temporary phenomenon. Learning loss can accumulate over years, eventually resulting in students who perform below their grade level.
- Research shows that teachers typically spend between 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
- Children who are given access to books over the summer access to books over the summer perform 35-40% better on reading achievement tests.
- Numerous studies have shown that children have much better reading outcomes when parents are involved in learning about and helping their children with literacy.
Avoiding the Summer Slide in Reading Skills
In terms of helping kids avoid the summer slide, of course it makes sense to tell kids to “just read more” over the summer.
In theory this sounds like a simple solution. But, from a practical sense, what can that look like for busy families like yours and mine?
How can we actually get kids to read more over the summer (and make reading a fun summer activity for kids)? Let's talk about three different options.
Option #1: Make multiple library trips
I'm guessing you've tried going to the library at the beginning of the summer and checking out a ton of books to read (like my family has).
This summer learning option has only been moderately successful for my family because:
- My kids zoom through the books quickly and then have to wait for me to find time to go to the library again.
- My kids (and I) don't want to cart a ton of books around as we're traveling on summer trips.
- Library books are easily lost in my kids' rooms, or are buried in our minivan and forgotten.
Option #2: Buy books
Our family has a decent-sized library of children's books and we're continuing to slowly add to our collection of quality kids books, but here's why buying books hasn't been a great option for avoiding the summer slide:
- My kids have read through most of the books and, honestly, it's hard for me to get them to consider reading as a fun summer learning activity when there's nothing new to read.
- I can't afford to buy all the books I want my kids to read each summer (and have no room to store them all!).
- I don't want to have to drag books all over the place (or go looking for them when my kids can't find them).
The Best Option: Kids Can Download All the Books They Want
I've recently started using Epic!, a digital library of popular kids books, in our homeschool and I'm convinced this can be a huge part of the summer learning activities kids need to avoid summer slide.
How Epic! Works
Epic! describes themselves as “the Netflix for children's books” and that's a pretty accurate title.
Parents sign up for an account and then kids can search from a digital library of over 25,000 educational books, audio books and videos, including non-fiction, fiction and DIY titles.
Epic! has a wide range of titles–popular fiction and non-fiction books that kids love and are familiar with–for kids from preschool to 12- or 13-years-old. Many of these books are STEM books or videos as well.
Kids have unlimited access to these titles and can read them anywhere–on a mobile device, tablet, or desktop. We love listening to the kids audio books in the car (a perfect way for a passive style of summer learning kids enjoy!).
12 Reasons Why Epic! Is a Perfect Summer Learning Activity for Kids
Epic! is super easy to use and makes summer learning for kids incredibly easy for parents and fun for kids because it eliminates a lot of the hassle of other summer learning activities. For example:
- No more need to run to the library every few days (or to pay late fees on lost or overdue books)
- With Epic!, there's no need to wait for books to come into stock at a local library.
- Because Epic! offers digital summer learning activities for kids, there's no need to drag books all over the place (or deal with finding that book that gets buried under dirty laundry in their room).
- All the books are available digitally, so there's no need to buy and store a ton of children's books
- Epic! allows for independent summer learning activities such as:
- kids can watch educational videos;
- listen to audio books;
- or (on many of the younger kids' books) have the book read to them.
- Since Epic! has popular books and videos that kids love, kids don't get bored. Check out this list of some of the cool STEM science videos on Epic!
7. With its fun, beautiful graphics, Epic! is a fun, easy to use interface for summer learning activities for kids.
8. Epic! is already in use at 87% of schools across the US, so kids may already be familiar with the program.
9. Parents can create multiple themed book lists and set goals for kids' summer learning.
10. Epic! gives kids achievements and rewards when they complete certain reading goals.
11. Epic! is completely affordable for all families! Right now through June 12, Epic! is only $1 for 3 months!
Learn more about Epic! and sign up your family here.
How I'm Using Epic! as a Fun Summer Learning Activity for My Kids
Want to see how it works?
Check out this video to see how I'm creating reading lists through using Epic! as a fun summer learning activity for my kids.
VIDEO: How to Create Summer Reading Lists for Kids in Epic!
Other Fun Summer Learning Activities for Kids
Check out this post with 100 easy craft ideas that are perfect for summer learning activities.
Another wonderful way to make summer learning fun for kids is through audio dramas. This post (one of the most popular on the site) has the ultimate list of awesome kids audio books and audio dramas. Listen to one of these while on a summer road trip, or even while driving around town.
I'm also continually updating this Kids Learning & Kids STEM Activities Pinterest board with fun activities. Follow this board to get lots of fun ideas:
Summer Learning Activities for Preschoolers
Parents often wonder how to prep their preschoolers for kindergarten, and I've found that summer learning activities for preschoolers are an easy and fun way to get kids ready for school.
My youngest is a preschooler who will be starting kindergarten in the fall, so this is a learning area I pay close attention to right now. In fact, I'm continually pinning new ideas to this board.