If you ask an expert on child development, they will tell you that play is one of the most important parts of the learning process. Even in play, however, it is important to know what type of learner your child is. Different learners have different styles. Some children like explanations, where others like to imitate the processes they have observed. I have one of each. Some children enjoy taking charge, others like to contribute to the team effort. While playing these games, observe and ask yourself “What kind of learner(s) do I have?”
With learning and play time in mind, here are a few different ideas for what to do over the Summer!
Go around the house with your child and pick items that have interesting or fun memories attached to them. Add a piece from each family member, but encourage your child to create the main exhibit. With your child, write memories on pieces of paper and help him create a museum that the family can walk through. Have your child explain why he picked that memory.
Encourage your child to come up with a story (e.g., An astronaut who discovers the moon IS made of cheese) and write it down. The story doesn’t have to make complete sense, but it will give your child a chance to write what she thinks is interesting or funny. When the story is finished have her read it to the family. (When your child is writing the story encourage her to answer “Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How?” to get as much detail as possible!)
“A” was an Apple Pie…
Pick a word game to play in the car! In the game “A was an Apple Pie…” you go through the alphabet to determine what exactly happened to the Apple Pie. A couple examples would be:
“A” was an Apple Pie and A ate it.
B baked it.
C cut it.
This encourages your children to think of words they know that begin with each letter of the Alphabet and attempt to make the situation make sense (as an example, “A was an Apple Pie, A art it” does not make grammatical sense, but “A was an Apple Pie, A ate it” does). As your children play the game, you will discover areas where they may struggle AND where they are strong! Take note of these and see where you can provide encouragement and support during more structured activities. Gently coach them if appropriate (you know your children) but keep it fun! Although there is no physical writing involved here, this type of game exercises imagination, spelling, grammar and stretches vocabulary which are all part of the writing process!
Keeping a Journal
During the summer, encourage your children to keep a journal of all the activities they have participated in, books they have read, cool dreams they’ve had, and other miscellaneous things. Journaling is an excellent way not only to practice writing, but also to encourage thinking and expression in a safe and positive way. You can find lots of great writing journals in copy shops and office supply stores, as well as custom-tailored (to age/interest) journals that are just-for-kids online. You can also encourage reusing and re-purposing to create the journal. I go through my children’s school supplies at the end of the school year and often find half-filled notebooks that, with very little effort, can be spruced up and reused for journaling and drawing.