Ah! Summer! A time for fun, relaxation, sunshine, ice cream and adventure! For me, summer also meant softball season – teamwork, competition, and camaraderie. Just the other day those memories came flooding back as I was riding my bike through a local park where a young girl was warming up on the pitcher’s mound in her softball uniform. I couldn’t help but smile and reminisce about the joys of summer.
But when summer becomes all about lazy days and fun, kids—especially kids who struggle academically—experience what we call summer learning loss. All too often they return to their studies having lost skills in reading and math.

But you can avoid summer learning loss for your kids and enjoy some time to relax at the same time. Here are just a few tips to help keep their skills strong while having fun:

Read. Summer is a great time to get caught up on reading for pleasure. So head to the library and let the kids find books that interest them. But don’t just let them drive the reading or they will often tend towards books that are below their reading level. In addition to the books they select for themselves, help them choose books that will provide a challenge. If you have a reluctant reader, create a friendly competition to see who can read the most books in a specific time frame–a great excuse to grab a few of your books.

For more on summer reading and fantastic summer reading lists, check out the post-Best Summer Reading List Ideas to find some great lists according to each child’s reading level.

Practice Math Skills. Summer is a great time for some practical math skills. Get kids involved in creating a budget for groceries, vacation, school supplies, activities, etc. Then have them help add, subtract, multiply and divide to see if you have stuck to that budget.
To make this more fun, explore a few math apps to keep math skills sharp over the summer. For help finding apps check out our posts entitled 7 Fab Educational Apps We Think You Will Love and Nine Great Educational Apps, Your Kids Will Adore.

Grab a Summer Bridge Book. Summer Bridge activity books provide short snippets of practice in core learning areas that can be completed in about 15 minutes a day. To keep learning fresh and fun, they combine built-in reward systems, online connections, and summer challenges, so that your kids will enjoy what they are learning. Order your Summer Bridge books here.

Take Advantage of Those Field Trips You Missed This Year. All too often we get so bogged down with our curriculum studies that we have to table those field trips that seem so appealing. Summer is a great time to make those field trips happen. Look for local zoos, state and local parks, hikes, museums, historical sites, etc., visit and then discuss what you found.

Dive Into Topics or Activities That Interest Them. One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is that we can explore interests all year long. But even for homeschoolers, summer can be a great time to dive deep into those interests. Whether they simply explore them further or complete a project around them, be sure to carve out time to enjoy!

Look for Learning Opportunities While You Travel. Travel time can become learning time with these simple games that incorporate learning and fun while you are on the road. Check out this post on Top Ten Ways to Homeschool on the Road for some creative ideas.

Balancing the Summer months with fun and educational activities can be challenging, but it’s worth it!  While summer learning loss is real, you don’t have to force hours of learning each day. Find fun and creative ways to combine summer learning with some lazy and fun days, so that when August hits you are both ready for a new school year and refreshed from the summer.