ALTHOUGH school holidays are the perfect time for children to disconnect and have fun, they can easily fall behind in reading, writing and math.
But there are fun, free ways to help keep them up to date and help them ease back into the classroom.
Here, Richard Evans, education expert at The Profs and Kathryn Lord, childcare expert at More to Books, share their expertise with Fabulous, so your kids won’t be left behind.
Richard says, “Reading is one of the most difficult activities for children to do in their free time, as it forces them to stay still and focused for an extended period of time.”
But there are fun ways to help out.
1. Make the discovery process exciting
Many quality bookstores and libraries have a children’s reading section – often with beanbags and other exciting additions.
And the best part is, “it’s a fun, free outing,” says Kathryn.
Richards says, “Guide your child through the shelves and let them choose 3-4 books that interest them.
“By giving your child some autonomy in choosing what they read, they are more likely to invest time in reading the book(s) they choose.”
2. Make reading fun
To encourage children to read on their own at home, you can try making it a game.
Kathryn says, “Give them a ‘reading bear’ they’ll read a book to or let them film themselves reading a book like they’re a TV presenter.”
3. Bingo Challenge
Kathryn says a bingo challenge can be a great way to make reading fun for kids, just pick six things and go.
“For instance, [choose a] book with an elephant, a blue book, a non-fiction book, an author’s book with [your child’s] first name, a book with twins in it, a book with characters from a different culture,” she explains, then give them a sticker for each one they read.
4. Make reading time a ritual
“Instead of making reading a chore, make reading time a regular ritual that’s part of their daily routine,” says Richard.
“Help your kids create a reading nook (think a strong pillow or removing sofa cushions) and turn off all screens for half an hour in the evening, for example.”
You can even try playing relaxing background music to create a special atmosphere.
“The goal is to make reading time different from all other times of the day,” says Richard.
Meanwhile, Kathryn suggests adding reading to your daily schedule where appropriate.
For example, on the bus, in the park or when the children are in the bath.
5. lead by example
Kathryn says, “Children learn by copying, if you want them to want to read, they need to see you doing it too!”
Richard agrees and suggests picking up a book for yourself and sitting with them during reading time.
“It shows that it’s not just something they have to do, but something that’s valued by the people they look up to the most,” he says.
Richards says, “Writing is another valuable skill that is important for children to practice over the summer, as it is required in all subjects at school and in other areas of life.”
Try these simple at-home tips to help keep them up to date.
1. Use cooking and cooking
Kathryn believes that cooking and baking can help children “achieve every goal” when it comes to learning.
Not only do they learn to cook from an early age, but it also teaches them a lot of reading, writing and math.
She suggests, “Let them choose a recipe, have them write a shopping list, go to the store and add up the cost of each item while you’re in the store.
“Then make a cookbook they like and they can write down what they like and how they can improve it next time.”
2. Turn it into a game
Richard suggests getting involved in your children’s learning and making it fun for both of you.
“A great game I use with my students is to write 3-4 lines featuring a scene – it could be their favorite planet from Star Wars, or a landscape reminiscent of a nature show,” says Richard, saying parents should do it too.
“The thing is, you both have 1-2 minutes to write your descriptions and encourage them to be as creative as possible.
“Then you read them to each other and talk about what you liked the most.”
Richard says it’s great for developing vocabulary and helping your child put their imagination to good use.
3. Have a correspondent
Kathryn says, “Writing postcards to a friend and receiving them is a great way to get kids reading and writing over the holidays.”
If you are traveling somewhere, you can ask them about where you have been.
Then ask them to research and write the answers in a letter or postcard to you, or another family member or friend.
4. Suggest starting a “secret” diary
“Like making reading time a daily ritual, journaling is a great way to incorporate writing practice into children’s daily routines,” says Richard.
“The idea of journaling is often more successful if you suggest a ‘secret’ journal or buy the kids a journal with a password.”
Making the writing secret adds a lot of value and so they are more likely to remember to add more regularly.
“It also has the added benefit of being a great way to release stress and manage mental health – perfect for older kids or kids preparing for exams,” he says.
Another way to do this is to print photos of their summer adventures and have them write captions for each, creating a journal detailing their vacation.
Richards says, “Mathematics can be difficult to teach without the structure of a lesson or textbook.
“However, it is still possible to help children develop their math skills at home.” Here’s how.
1. Browse the daily puzzle section
Richard says: “There are plenty of puzzles to go through with your child in the daily newspapers, like sudoku.
“Teach them the rules of each game and challenge them to see if they can do it faster each day.
“Over time, reduce the number of entries you add until they are able to solve the puzzles on their own.”
2. Discover math in everyday life
Many math skills are needed in everyday life, like calculating how much money you have and how much you need to buy something.
Richards says, “Use these daily activities as an opportunity to develop your child’s math skills and help them see the practical use of math.
“It will also help your child enjoy math as a fun and simple activity, rather than viewing it as something boring or pointless.”
3. Use mealtimes
Kathryn suggests using mealtimes as an opportunity to help encourage math.
She says, “Talk about fractions when slicing your pizza or cake or practice division by sharing strawberries among all family members.”
You can also talk about the different shapes using your cucumbers, carrots, and peas.
Something to remember…
At the end of the day, whatever you help your kids practice over the summer break, there’s one thing to remember, says Richard.
“The trick is always to make learning fun by giving your child what they want most – your full, undivided attention.”
He adds: “Turn off your phone and all the screens in the house, and join them in their activities for 15 minutes a day.
“You might even create habits for life together and find yourself doing sudokus or reading together for decades.”