Keep your kids busy this summer, but not just with the Xbox and computer. Keep them learning, too.

Keep your kids busy and keep them learning over their summer vacation. This way they will go back to school with lots of fun experiences but also be ready to settle into the formal learning atmosphere the first day of school. Here are just a few ideas to keep your young ones learning all summer long.

Writing Prompts

For those kids who are old enough to write, giving them writing prompts daily is a great way to exercise many skills crucial to learning. The prompts are one or two sentences that give them a topic, then your children have to write a response. You can set a standard number of sentences and give them guidance for what you are looking for. If your child needs to work on their penmanship, creativity, sentence structure or formatting this is a great project to work with.

Read a Popular Series Together

Your kids can learn plenty over the summer all by themselves, but if you get involved too you will all benefit more. Choose a popular book series like the Harry Potter books or the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, or any other really, then set a date every week day to sit down and read together for at least 30 minutes. Read for longer if your children’s attention span allows, because once you become immersed in the story you will probably all want to read more and more. This time spent together will end up being something you all look forward to and you will learn and explore the story at the same time.

Write Book Reports

If you do not have tons of time at home with your kids, but want them to still learn and reinforce their skills over the summer, assign them book reports. Make sure they choose books that are not too challenging for their skill level, nor too easy to make the project less worthwhile. Provide clear guidelines for how long the report should be and what it should cover. This can work, even for your younger kids because they can work to read a longer book than normal by chipping away at it for a month or so and then write the report with your help, or the help of an older sibling.

Visit Museums and Fairs

Summertime LearningCredit: Skye McKiernanMuseums and fairs are one of the best ways to make learning fun. Whether it is a hands-on farm display at your county or state fair, or a museum highlighting the history of your local area, your kids will learn plenty. The best part is, they will not even realize they are learning because they are having fun at the same time. Either watch the local media for fair announcements or find a listing of the best museums in your area for kids and work from there, choosing depending on the specific interests and hobbies your children enjoy. Reinforce the learning on the ride home, or later that evening over dinner.

Enroll Them in Camps

There are day camps and weeklong summer camps offered through so many groups it can be hard to organize them all. Simplify your hunt by checking out places your kids love to go already like their gymnastics class, or an art studio. Bounce house facilities often offer these types of camps, too and will wear your kids out so they are less hyper when you bring them home. Some after school programs run into summer as well and offer themed camps allowing your kids to explore things like science and cooking. If your child is already involved in sports, there are plenty of summer programs to help them continue developing the skills needed for their preferred game.

Make Everyday Projects Learning Opportunities

Baking a cake for a birthday celebration can turn into a lesson on measuring and adding up fractions. Making oatmeal for breakfast can be a lesson on how to safely use the microwave or stove, given that your child is of an appropriate age. Making a play date with friends can be a simple way to reinforce manners for your kids. By putting a little extra thought and effort into an everyday activity you can teach your kids something they probably wouldn’t have the chance to learn in school.

Go Geocaching

Geocaching is a kind of treasure hunt, where you use a special GPS or directions to find a hidden treasure. Once you find the treasure, you take a trinket and leave one behind, too. There are plenty of geocaching options, from the super simple ones great for younger kids to the more advanced ones better for the older set. Finding the treasure is a lesson in itself in using maps and following directions, but enjoying the hunt itself will teach you many other things about the local flora and fauna.

Budget Outings With Them

Involving your children in the basic budgeting of small outings keeps them aware of the fact that they cannot have everything they want. It also teaches them some simple math lessons about how to divide spending money evenly among family members and what things take top priority during your outing. Be careful when budgeting with children not to get too stressed though and do not allow them to become stressed either. This can be a learning opportunity, but if taken too far your children may feel like it is their responsibility to handle the money and spending and feel guilty for having the money spent on them.

Make More Boring Projects Into Contests

Chores are often boring, so to spice up the everyday duties make it a contest. Award the kids an extra 50 cents or a sticker for whoever completes their duties first, but make sure to check they were still done appropriately and not rushed through just to win the contest. You can make a chart and mark down who wins each day, then award a bigger prize at the end of the summer, too. The kids learn a sense of camaraderie and learn that they have different ways to complete their everyday chores. 

Take Your Kids to Work With You

This may not be possible for all families, but if there is a way to arrange to bring your children to work with you it will be an experience they will never forget. One way to do this if you cannot actually work with your children there is to arrange a day off, then bring your children in that day and show them what you do and how you do it. If you work from home, have them sit next to you and show them all about your job. Take the time to ask your children what they would do next and discuss how important wise decision-making is.

The beauty of summer vacation is that your children have learning opportunities they might not ever get in a formal education setting. Take this break time to teach your kids, learn from them and enrich your relationships with them. The time you spend with them will pay dividends for years.