Summer vacation will be here before we know it, and a lot of parents and caregivers struggle to think of creative and fun ways to keep their kids’ minds focused when the kids just want to be playing with friends! I babysat 2 children during the summer last year and here are a few fun things we did to keep them learning even when school was out.
1.) Their parents wanted them to read a certain number of books each week. Each Monday I would take them to the library and let them choose a few books in their age group, then I chose one for them slightly out of their age group (nothing too difficult of course). When it came time for them to read the books out of their age group, I had them read the books out loud to me. When they got to a word they didn’t know, I took note of it. Later, I put the word or (words) on one side of an index card and the definition on the back of the card. I studied with them every day and on Friday, if they could tell me the word and what it meant, they got an extra 10 minutes in the pool. They LOVED swimming and it was motivation to broaden their vocabulary.
2.) I know it’s never too early to incorporate math into making purchases. Whenever we would go to the zoo or even to a yard sale to get some fun, cheap toys, I would give them a certain amount of dollars. If I gave them $10 and one item they wanted was $4, I helped them calculate how much change they would get back if they got the one item, or I would help them add the $4 to another price to see if they could afford 2 items they wanted. If we went to an arcade (the kind that spits out tickets you exchange for prizes), I did the same with their tickets. They counted them before we took them to the counter and they added up the “cost” of the prizes they wanted to see if they should get a big prize or several little items.
3.) Kids are learning foreign languages younger and younger every year. One of the kids was obsessed with sidewalk chalk. I wanted to teach her how to count from one to ten in Spanish using Hopscotch as a teaching tool. I started by teaching her “uno” is Spanish for “one”. Once she got that down, I would move on to “dos”. I got her all the way to diez. I would ask her “what is Spanish for 5?” Then ask “What is siete in English?” It took her a couple of weeks to get it down pat and when she did, I had her draw her hopscotch squares and fill them in with the Spanish words instead of just numbers. And every time after that, if she wanted to play hopscotch, I had her fill in the squares the same way. She actually got all the way to 20 in Spanish by the time school started!