Summer Writing Tips for Kids
We’re in the midst of summer vacation. You don’t need me to remind you of the obvious – if they don’t keep their minds active in summer, children are at risk of losing much of what they’ve learned during the school year. There’s a ton of research, and our own experience and common sense tell us that’s true. Check out the National Center for Summer Learning at the Johns Hopkins University for some of the best, most recent research as well as excellent tips for keeping kids’ minds active during the summer (www.summerlearning.org). I’ve done some work with these folks. They’re top notch.
Research tells us that summer brain drain is even worse for children from homes where
· there’s not much reading, conversation, and quality time with parents or other significant adults
· there isn’t access to books, magazines, and other entertaining reading materials
· there aren’t role models to show how lifelong learning is important to children and adults alike
· parents don’t actively value learning, and in some sad cases (for which the parents should be beaten with wet noodles), where it’s actively disparaged
· summer is filled with boredom, passive time-fillers, and little intellectual stimulation
In the past few weeks, the Dr. Rick Blog has focused on summer activities for kids. (See the postings from June 8, 2009; June 11, 2009; and June 15, 2009 for ideas about summer learning, summer camp, and summer reading tips from one of my favorite educators.)
Today I’ll provide some tips for summer writing activities. In the next few blogs, I’ll give tips on summer vocabulary, spelling, math, and reading tips. As always, we enjoy hearing your ideas. Share them with us by clicking on “Comments” below.
Summer writing can be fun, expressive, and skill-building (but you don’t need to tell the kids that). Give your child the confidence to be ready for school in the fall, and help her teacher get right down to business without spending precious time reviewing skills kids have forgotten in the summer.
Here are some ideas to keep your kids writing this summer.
1. Collect interesting, amusing, thought-provoking summer pictures from magazines, the Internet, or your own family albums. “Prompt” your children with ideas about writing.
o What’s your favorite summer memory?
o Write a poem about summer fun.
o How do you think people kept cool before air conditioning?
o Pretend you lived 100 years ago. What’s summer vacation like for you?
2. Interview older friends and relatives about their summer memories. (They’ll love talking about this.) Then write a short description or story. Together come up with a list of questions for these interviews.
3. Write jokes about summer activities like the pool, vacation, games, pastimes, etc.
4. Keep a family photo journal and have the children write captions for the pictures or a short story summary. A variation of this is to keep a summer scrapbook with pictures and memorabilia of your favorite things.
5. Keep a personal or family “summer things I notice” journal. Every once in a while, everyone in the family contributes a short piece of descriptive writing, a drawing, a favorite poem or an original one, favorite memories, interesting observations, etc. Watch the journal grow.
6. Yes, even in an electronic age, kids love getting letters in the mail. Help your child have a pen-pal and keep up a correspondence for the summer and beyond.
7. Go to www.bookadventure.com for cool reading ideas, and then write about the books and stories you’ve read together. Don’t call this a “book report,” even if that’s what it really is.
8. Create a story with friends and family members as characters.
9. Write review of the programs your family watches on TV, the movies you attend, the books you read, the trip to the amusement park or any other activity.
10. Compare and contrast summer where you live to summer in other parts of the world or the U.S.
You certainly don’t have to tell the kids that you’re helping them keep up their language arts skills, motivating an interest in geography or family history, or even encouraging a lifelong hobby. (See my blog of June 1, 2009, about the benefits of hobbies for kids.) You’re just helping them have fun over the summer, right?
Stay tuned for more tips on fun summer learning activities!