Monday, June 15, 2009

Slip in Summer Learning

School is out and you and your kids are ready for a break from academics. But should you really give your kids the whole summer off from learning?

Today Amy Bevins, Assistant Editor for Washington FAMILY Magazine, was on the Moms Like Me segment on WUSA9 talking about toys and games that Slip in Summer Learning.

Why is it so important for kids to keep learning over the summer?

Amy offers the following thoughts and suggestions:

Research shows that over the summer, kids typically lose 2.6 months of grade equivalency in math and often a month or more in other subject areas.

Summer is a great time to give your kids, and yourself, a break from traditional academics, but you can still reinforce skills in fun ways. A lot of it is how your present it. Make it fun and your kids won’t feel pressured to learn.

Here are a few toys and games that slip learning into a fun package for at home or on the road.

Fractiles are one of Amy’s favorites, because they are so versatile and portable. Fractiles are magnetic pattern blocks whose angles are based on the number 7. You can follow the patterns on the package or website or create your own designs.

Fractiles are wonderful for teaching about symmetry, geometry, spatial relations and pattern matching, which is critical for reading success. Fractiles come in several sizes, from a small travel version all of the way up to ones for the fridge. And, you might even find yourself vying with the kids for a turn with Fractiles. (

When keeping a journal about travels, memories or observations, kids practice handwriting, recall, sequencing and so much more. Notebooks by Eeboo are perfect for collecting summer memories. The Summer Days journal has places for memories of camp, the beach, books read or hanging out in the backyard. The Travel Notebook has places for itineraries, packing lists, mementos and, like all of the notebooks, comes with fold over stationary to send letters along the way. The Nature Notebook has space for your budding naturalist to write observations and draw pictures and comes with glassine envelopes for field specimens. So you can even sneak in a little science and handwriting. Tricky! (

The Brain Game from Discovery Toys is a fast-paced trivia game for the whole family and has categories like geography, history, sports/games and even a no-brainer category. Because it is a game the whole family can play and has this fun electronic brain, kids won’t realize they are learning while they are playing. (

What about those pesky math facts? For things like multiplication facts, there really is no way around drill and practice. But is doesn’t have to be boring. Amy’s daughter actually asked to play with Math Whiz and was thrilled when she beat her time on a math challenge. Math Whiz has 8 challenge levels for addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for basic facts up to pre-Algebraic concepts. It is great for at home or on the road and can be played individually or head-to–head and even converts into a calculator. (

Slipping in summer learning can be fun and can really pay off in the long run.

For more articles and resources for families visit the Washington FAMILY Magazine web site.

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