It's great to keep kids focused on school during the summer, but don't pay to do it when there are great free resources out there. Over the course of ten weeks of summer vacation, children can forget math facts, phonics, and writing skills. Keep them on-task in both fun and traditional methods for free. Next year's teacher will appreciate it, and so will you when September rolls around again.
The number one tip to keep writing and communication skills sharp is to journal. Some elementary schools may offer incentives to children who keep summer journals or complete summer work packets. Find a cheap spiralbound notebook and allow your child to decorate it any way he/she wants. Then, set Monday as a journaling day. Chronicle the events of the weekend and add pictures from magazines to illustrate the events or ideas or have the child illustrate the journal. Peek over his/her shoulder to make sure the writing is up to par, but don't "grade" it. Spelling errors and other weaknesses shouldn't become the focus or the task will become a weekly battle. Instead, gently remind the child about repeated spelling errors with something like, "I always had trouble spelling tomorrow too. Let's write it at the top of next week's page so you can remember it."
Games that reinforce reading and spelling are great summer activities as well. Give your children old magazines or newspapers and a word bank of spelling words that you remember from the previous school year or Big IQ Kids
Then, have them do a scavenger hunt to find the words; whoever finds half the list first wins.
Visit www.puzzlemaker.com and provide your child with a list of words. Allow your child to choose and create the puzzle of his/her choice for the words.
Math facts such as multiplication tables and addition/subtraction facts seem to leave little brains faster than they go in. Keep them fresh on your child's mind by reviewing them throughout the summer. Flash cards are probably the least exciting way to remember the facts, so look for something flashier. Ipod/iPhone aps are free or under $1 and work wonders. Remember, you're not teaching the concepts, just reviewing them.
Office supply stores and parent/teacher stores sell grade level prep books for $10 on up. There's no need to purchase these when you can print out the same or better worksheets for free. Look at these websites for appropriate grade level practice:
Don't Overlook the Teacher
Before things get hectic at the end of the year next year, ask your child's teacher for a summer packet or online resources. If the teacher has a school web page, he/she probably already has online links for you to utilize during time off. If not, he/she certainly knows of a few. Libraries keep many posted as well. If you're looking for pen and paper work, the teacher can probably produce a packet with a little warning. Many teachers are hesitant to give out the packets to everyone, knowing that many will go into the trash. However, upon request they're more than willing to keep you child learning during the relaxing days of summer.
About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at http://www.kellybutterbaugh.com