Wherever your summer travels take you, there will be many learning opportunities for your young child. Places you visit can lead to fun exercises in both reading and math.
Make a point to see any attractions that might involve books. For example, maybe there is an author’s home open for visiting, or a location that was a backdrop for a favorite story. If possible, go to that location’s library and compare and contrast it to your own town library.
Take time to read together all tourist information provided. For example, if going to a national park, be sure to read the signs and plaques that tell about the topography and wildlife you might encounter on a trail. Or at a zoo, help your child read informational signs about the animals and their environment.
Stop at a local bookstore and ask about a simple, inexpensive story that describes the area you are visiting. Purchase it for her as a keepsake of the trip.
Have him start a simple “travel diary.” In a small notebook, have him write the date at the top of the page. Then ask him to draw some of the things you did that day. Before bed, help him write some simple sentences to go with the pictures. This is a great reference if he’s asked to tell about “What I did this summer” once school resumes in the fall.
When getting ready to travel, show him how you calculate the distance from your home to the destination. Estimate together how many miles you will be traveling during the entire trip. Even though a young child might not understand more complicated math, he will remember and have a frame of reference about doing this as a family when he encounters higher level calculations in upper grades.
If you are visiting historic sites, pay attention to dates on buildings or statues and help her figure out how old the sites are. Create a comparison; for example, “Grandpa wasn’t even born when this bridge was built.”
Have him look for and count specific road signs. Point out and help him count forward (or backward numbers, depending on your route) the highway exit sign numbers. Ask him to predict which one will be next.
These easy and fun ideas make a young child involved and vested in using skills learned this past school year. Activities like these will keep skills sharp and ready for a new school year!
Connie McCarthy is passionate about her work as a teacher of young children. She has devoted her entire career to making sure that her students do well at school, right from the start. Connie has an undergraduate degree in Elementary Education, and a Master’s Degree in Special Education. She has been teaching first grade in East Providence, R.I. for 23 years, where she received the distinction of “Highly Qualified Teacher” by the Rhode Island State Board of Regents. Connie also taught nursery school for four years, and published numerous articles on early education in East Bay Newspapers in Bristol, R.I. She’s also been published in PTO Today Magazine. She lives with her husband, Brian, and has a daughter and a son, both young adults. Connie enjoys reading, writing about elementary education, and taking long walks with friends. During summer vacations, she likes to travel with her husband. She also loves reading readers’ comments on her weekly blog posts.