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Superintendent News & Views-Keep Kids Learning During the Summer-By David Hill, Gladbrook-Reinbeck Superintenden

June 1, 2018
Northern-Sun Print
Summer is a great time to seek out opportunities to extend a child’s learning. There are many opportunities to learn during the summer – story hour at the public library, swimming lessons, vacation Bible school, scouting and 4-H activities, summer camp, volunteer activities, and summer sports are just a few examples. Over the summer months, children can lose a shocking amount of what they’ve already learned unless there is an intentional effort to keep their brains engaged. That means the kids who put forth just a little bit of effort are going to be ahead come fall. Parents, you owe it to your kids—and to their futures—to incorporate learning activities into their summer. Reading and learning activities can be an important part of your child’s summer experience while still allowing plenty of time for play and relaxation. Here are a few suggestions, courtesy of the National Association of Elementary Principals. FIND ACTIVITY BOOKS TO EXERCISE THEIR MINDS. There is a huge variety of activity books available, usually catered to specific age groups. Give your children their own activity book and let them work at their own pace to finish it. (Set a “due by” date to keep them on track.) Crossword puzzles, math activity books, and number puzzles all keep children’s brains in motion. INCORPORATE “THINKING” INTO TRAVELING. If your family takes a vacation during the summer, include stops at a few places that will incorporate learning along with fun. Zoos, children’s museums, and historic sites are educational as well as entertaining. For bonus learning, have your children help you plot out the trip using an atlas or online mapping software. Older children can tally up the miles, keep track of expenses, or figure out gas mileage. SET A READING TIME EVERY DAY. Set aside a certain time every day where everyone puts away their smartphones and turns off the computer, TV, music, and video games. Spends 15 minutes or more reading. Parents can set an example by participating in this reading time along with your child. GET BOOK RECOMMENDATIONS FOR YOUR CHILD. Check out the American Library Association’s recommended Summer Reading lists for kids at Be sure to sign your kids up for summer reading programs at the local library, too! BE “INTERNATIONAL.” Set aside one or two nights during the summer to have an international evening. Together, find recipes from a different nation and put together a special meal. Learn a few basic words in that country’s language and find a children’s book or online information on what life is like in that country. Get out a world map or a globe and show them where the country is and talk about what you’d want to visit if you could go there. PARTICIPATE IN SPORTS AND EXERCISE. T-Ball, little league, dance, and other organized activities offered in the community are a great way to build foundational skills and squeeze in some physical activity. Even if your child can’t participate in a local sports league or community-based team, there are plenty of ways to get exercise—family trips to area swimming pools, jumping rope, taking family walks around your neighborhood, or visiting the playground equipment at an area park. While it does take some effort and planning to keep kids engaged in learning during the summer, the benefit to a child’s education is beyond measure. I hope parents, grandparents, and others who have an influence on the lives of young people will find these suggestions to be helpful. Do you have another tip to share, or a comment about this article? You are welcome to visit my blog at where you can read all of my columns from the Northern Sun Print and Reinbeck Courier and leave comments if you wish. I also occasionally post pictures and other content that is not submitted to the paper or additional information that expands upon what was submitted to the paper. You are also welcome to follow me on Twitter, where my handle is @DavidRobertHill. Have a great summer!

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