Play is a great tool for learning, and summer is the time to easily blend play with academic skills.
Here are some simple ways to turn play into valuable learning experiences.
At the beach:
- Let your child use a stick to practice writing in the sand. Start with letters, words, and simple sentences. Use words that you would find at the beach, such as wave, shells, tide, fish, etc.
- Collect shells or rocks together for simple addition and subtraction fun. For example, 9 shells take away 3 shells, equals 6 shells.
In the yard, driveway, or at a park:
- If your child likes to hop, jump or skip, count the number of hops, jumps, or skips it takes to get from the back door to the big tree. Then have her count backwards, as she reverses from the tree to the door.
- Buy a package of inexpensive sidewalk chalk. Draw some large circles, squares, rectangles, and triangles on the driveway, sidewalk, or patio. When your child can identify the shape, let them use the chalk to turn it into their own work of art using additional shapes and designs. For example, the circle could become a beautiful flower; the rectangle could be turned into a train engine, the triangle a colorful kite.
On a rainy day:
- Let your child play "office" with sticky notes, envelopes, old calendars, note paper, paper clips etc. He can pretend to write letters and emails, take phone messages, and conduct meetings with his imaginary staff.
- Curl up with a favorite story together, and then ask your child to create or act out a different setting or ending for the story.
Besides having fun, learning through enjoyable play promotes creative thinking and builds self-confidence!