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I know that after months of trying to do school work at home with your children the sense of relief when the summer holidays arrived was most likely incredible.
And I don’t blame you if you never want to look at another workbook or try and coerce your child into practising their times tables ever again.
The thing is, for my family at least, the return to school in September will be a huge shock to the system if we abandon learning altogether over the summer. So if you want to keep your children ticking over with their learning then here are some things you can try doing with them (and lots of them basically involve learning through play).
Take on a summer reading challenge
The last few years we’ve signed up for the summer reading challenge at our local library and it’s been a great way to encourage the children to keep reading over the holidays.
If your local library is still closed at the moment, like ours is, then you can still sign up for the summer reading challenge online.
Another idea that would be fun for avid readers is to set up a family book club. Decide together which books you’ll read, then sit down together each week to chat about them.
Dig out the board games, card games and chess boards
These kinds of games are a great way to sneak some learning into the summer holidays.
Things like chess teach them how to think strategically, as well as boosting their memory, spatial awareness and problem solving skills.
We’re big fans of Orchard games for games that are simple and fun to play while still being quite educational. They cover all sorts of things from times tables to telling the time in a way that makes learning just feel like playing.
Keep a bit of structure
If having a bit of a routine works best for your family then you might want to pick up, or carry on with, some of the structure of doing home schooling.
There are loads of workbooks you can buy that cover all sorts of subjects for children of all ages, that they can work through at their own pace.
You could also look at using Twinkl resources to find worksheets to print off for them to do.
If you’re happy with them working on the computer then you could use the resources from BBC bitesize, there’s loads on there from when the schools were closed, covering various topics.
We’ve also been using The Maths Factor for a few months now to support the maths work the children were given from school to do at home. Rhys and Nerys both really enjoy doing their daily sessions and I’m a huge fan of the way Carol Vorderman uses all sorts of tips and tricks to help them understand different maths problems. I signed the children up for it when it was free during the school closures, but they were getting so much out of it I’ve paid for subscriptions for them now and can see us sticking with it for quite a while.
Make the most of screen time
If your children would happily spend hours on end in front of the computer or iPad then try using that to your advantage.
There are all sorts of things they can do on tablets or computers that are really fun but also educational.
A great place to start is with games that teach them the basics of coding. Rhys was asked to do some Disney hour of code activities as part of his school work that we did at home last term, and it was so much fun Nerys ended up doing it too.
One of the skills that I’m really aware that my children don’t practice much over the summer holidays is handwriting.
So any activity that gets them writing, while still having fun, is a win.
Writing postcards to send to friends and family is a great place to start. Even if you don’t go away anywhere, you should be able to find postcards in your own town to send. Or you could make your own. The beauty of postcards is there’s only a small amount of space to fill with writing so it doesn’t feel overwhelming for the children.
Another idea is to make a scrapbook of the things you get up to over the summer, with the children writing down memories and stories by hand to stick in with photos and drawings.
Have fun in the kitchen
Baking is a great way to practice all sorts of skills.
Following the recipe helps with reading and comprehension skills. Measuring out the ingredients involves maths skills. And watching how the ingredients work together to create something delicious teaches them about science.
So let them pick out a recipe and take the lead in cooking up something yummy. We use this 2-4-4-4 fairy cake recipe a lot, and have down since the children were really little because it’s so easy but makes really tasty cakes every time.
Have a foreign holiday at home
If your children are learning a foreign language at school then help them practice during the holidays by pretending you’re visiting another country for the day.
You can pop to the supermarket and get foods from the country to try, and then have conversations in the language they’re learning as you sit and eat. You could also go on a virtual tour of the foreign country and look at their famous landmarks and see what they’re called in their native language.
To really immerse yourselves in the language you could try listening to a radio station from the foreign country or even watch a foreign-language film in the evening.
Give some STEM activities a go
There are so many fun things you can do that sneakily introduce children to the basics of science, technology, engineering and maths.
One thing we’ve had a lot of fun with is making flipbooks, which also happen to be a great way to introduce children to the idea of animation. Once you’ve got the hang of flipbooks you can try making stop motion videos too.
I use the stop motion studio app on my phone to make these with my children and it’s really easy to do and so satisfying to watch the end result.
Things are definitely going to be strange when the children go back to school in September, and it’ll take us all a while to readjust to the routine of it all.
But hopefully these tips and ideas will help keep your children in the habit of learning, even if they don’t quite realise they’re doing it, over the summer break.