Summer holidays start in the UK this year on the 24th July, with a new school year starting on the 1st September 2023. Many parents’ opinions are divided as to whether they get their child to do any kind of schoolwork during the holidays. For some parents, the opportunity to catch up on missed work or to try and improve poor grades with tutoring is tempting. But experts agree that balance needs to be struck between letting kids relax and just ‘be kids’, and using the summer holiday as an ‘academic remedy’. And for some parents, any kind of schoolwork on the holidays is a ‘no go’ zone!
So how can parents strike the right balance? By building literacy and numeracy skills through fun holiday activities. Here are five suggestions that parents can adapt for any age group:
Reading: Encourage your child to read books of their choice during the summer break. Reading enhances vocabulary, comprehension skills, and critical thinking abilities. Consider creating a reading challenge; for example, offer a reward for each book read (something your child responds to, like ‘more screen time’ or a ‘trip to the zoo). If you have a teenager (like me!) you could offer them a certain amount of money per book which could be used on a clothes or shoe shopping trip together. Lots of teens like to shop for a new outfit for the start of a new school year. Money earned by reading could be just the motivator they need to afford that new must-have pair of sneakers for a new school year! Another idea to get younger children reading is to join a summer reading program at the local library.
Maths Practice: Maths skills can diminish if not practiced regularly. Help your child maintain their maths proficiency by incorporating some maths activities into their summer routine. Online maths games, maths workbooks, or even real-life maths scenarios like budgeting, cooking, or measuring can make maths engaging and practical. Take your child food shopping with a list and a budget. Get them to write down the cost of each item on their list to see if it fits in their budget. If it doesn’t, get them to try and think of alternatives – a cheaper brand, for example – or ask them to decide which item on their list they can do without to make sure their budget isn’t blown!
Writing Exercises: Writing is an essential skill that can be improved through practice. Encourage your child to write regularly over the summer break. They can maintain a journal, write short stories or poems, or even start a blog. You can also find writing prompts or enroll them in a creative writing workshop or camp. One thing that is coming back into fashion is writing postcards. When my kids were little, I encouraged them to write a postcard to Gran or Grandad from wherever they were on holidays. And if they didn’t go away, I asked them to make a postcard using a free template from Word. They would write about what they had been doing on their holidays, then stick the postcard to some cardboard, buy a stamp and post it off themselves. Their grandparents loved the nostalgic feeling they got from reading a real postcard!
Online Courses: Voyager School offers a wide variety of online courses, but many reputable platforms such as Khan Academy and Adventure Academy (for primary students) offer online courses (some free!) on various subjects, including academic topics, coding, languages, and more. Research and find courses aligned with your child’s interests or areas they want to explore. Online courses provide a structured learning environment and can be a productive way to utilize their time during the break.
Science Projects and Experiments: Science is all around us, and summer break provides an opportunity for hands-on exploration. Engage your child in science projects or experiments that pique their curiosity. They can explore topics like astronomy, biology, chemistry, or even environmental science. Encourage them to document their findings and present their projects to family and friends. For tailored content that stimulates learning with fun experiments to do at home, our favourite is the ‘Crash Course Kids’ Science videos on YouTube.
So, hopefully this list and links have given you some great holiday inspiration! We look forward to seeing you again in September!