Kids love summer and they deserve a break…but the learning slump can hit them hard. Research shows that summer vacation may have detrimental learning effects for many students. When they return to school, almost three months without working on their skills can set them behind…especially when they’re already struggling. Here are some ways to prevent your child from losing skills over the summer through fun and motivating activities. Whether your child’s needs are speech related, occupational therapy related, or academic, choose the activity suggestions that are right for you!
1. Speech Scavenger Hunt
During the summer, kids love to be outdoors. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids by having them find certain objects that contain the sounds they need to practice. E.g. If your child has trouble with the R sound, have him find objects with that sound in the name. For instance, a tree, a bird, branch, etc. You can print out images of the objects you want him to find on the scavenger hunt. Once he finds them, ask him to practice saying each of the words using his speech sound strategies. This type of scavenger hunt can also be a great way to work on other types of learning skills such as letter awareness, word reading, sight words, math facts, etc.; you can create cards with the desired practice targets, hide them, then let the hunt begin! If developing fine motor skills needs to be your child’s focus, give your child a pair of “tongs” to strengthen their precision and control while they collect all the items throughout the hunt!
2. Obstacle Courses with Friends
Schedule play dates with friends and set up obstacle courses that focus on whatever motor skills your child needs to work on. While the obstacle courses may be for your child, the other kids will have just as much fun because, who doesn’t love an obstacle course? If fine motor skills are your child’s struggle, set up arts and crafts or games that require him to work on fine motor skills. If you know other moms with children who are in occupational therapy, team up and create a kids fun day once a week or every other week to engage your kiddos in some good quality outdoor excitement! Even if your child may not be in need of fine or gross motor development, think of how you can weave whatever practice you need into the fun of an obstacle course…the excitement and possibilities are endless!
3. Focus on Specific Skills
Pinpoint the areas where your child is struggling the most. Team up with his therapists to get a list of exercises and recommendations that will help him improve over the summer. Make sure he spends 15-30 minutes a day working on these skills. You can use a reward system to motivate him, too! It’s easy to fill up a child’s day with summer camps, but remember how critical a bit of daily structured time will be to address a multitude of skills and concepts to keep things fresh in your child’s mind and keep their learning progressing despite the school break.