It's Summer Time!

The six week break over the summer seems like an eternity for any young child.  It is crucial that children have the opportunity to recharge their batteries during this time, having lots of downtime and long sleeps.  However, it is also a very long stretch of time away from pre-school or school and parents should be conscious of this to ensure learnt skills are not lost over the summer months.  No, I don’t mean making your child sit down and do formal reading, writing and numbers every day! Far from it...Instead maximise learning opportunities to fit in with wherever you are or whatever you may be doing.  The trick with 3-5 year olds is if it’s done right they will just believe you are playing a fun game or doing an exciting activity or sharing some special time together!

What you decide to do over the summer months with your child will obviously depend on the age and individual child and school.  However, some general examples of how early learning can fit into your summer life can include:

Learning on the beach:

  • Using a stick or a finger to write in the sand (develop fine motor skills). Examples include writing names, letter shapes, drawing pictures etc...
  • Build sculptures and sand castles. Children talk about how they’d like it to look and go and collect some objects before building. Talk about the process of building throughout. What have you used? Which is the tallest? The shortest?
  • Finding pebbles/shells – talking about their sizes, shapes, textures, colours.  How many are there? Which one is your favourite? Why?
  • Playing games on the beach. For example making a simple obstacle course, play bat and ball, throwing and catching, running, skipping, jumping races etc...(developing coordination, balance, gross motor skills)
  • Digging holes (develop gross motor skills), burying ‘treasure’
  • Searching for creatures that live on the beach eg. crabs, sand-hoppers, starfish etc... Talk about what you’ve seen

Learning on the go:

  • Stories / songs to listen to in the car
  • I spy games - focusing on saying the starting sound (rather than the name of the letter)
  • Looking games – Who can spot a red car? Who can see a sign with a picture of a man digging on it first?  What do you think it means? You could maybe prepare a few pictures in a booklet for your child to refer to throughout the journey to see how many they can spot.

Learning in the shops:

  • Allow your child to handle money.  I myself am often guilty of just paying with my card (rather than cash)...So easily done in this day and age!  But, try to allow your child to handle coins, pay for small things themselves and wait for change 
  • Make a shopping list (could be pictorial) so your child can go hunting for the different items and even be of some help to you!  Or perhaps make a shopping list, put it on a clipboard and your child can tick the items when they are in the trolley.  Giving your child a role in the supermarket will undoubtedly improve any potential behavioural issues during this time too
  • Talk about the objects you put in the trolley (shape, size, colour, how they taste etc...).  Discuss why we choose some foods instead of others (eg. milk is good for our bones, sweets are not very good for our teeth etc...)

If you are at home:

  • Cooking with your child (reading the recipe together, measuring ingredients, talking about the process, enjoying the end result).  Research has shown that children that are involved in making their own food are more likely to eat it and this can therefore be a helpful tip to encourage fussy eaters to eat more!
  • Reading at home.  Try to get into a routine and ensure your child has book time every day.  If the day is too busy, a bedtime story seems to be a time of day that we can all squeeze in and enjoy.  Visit your local library for children to pick their own books to browse and borrow. 
  • Board games and puzzles – Encourage a multitude of skills, including sharing and taking turns and number and shape development.
  • Arts and crafts.  Yes, I know it can be messy but mess can be good!  Children love exploring colour and texture so paint mixing, cutting and sticking, play dough etc... are all fantastic for your child’s creative development as well as their physical fine motor skills.  In the summer months you could even get them outside to avoid mess inside!

Anyway, here are just a few ideas to keep you going throughout the summer.  Like I said, it should all be fun and games and nothing too onerous; it is important your child continues to feel the buzz of learning and is refreshed and revitalised in time for September!

If you would like further ideas (I have bucket loads!) or a structured plan that could be devised around you and your family I’d love to help so please get in touch.

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