Five Ways To Keep Your Children Learning Over The Summer

We are reaching the end of the summer term and it has probably been the strangest school year that children have ever experienced, thanks to the big C word. Instead of celebrating the end of term with sports days, summer fairs, and transition days, most children have been stuck at home, completing worksheets with the occasional video lesson.

As a result, you might feel a little concerned about your child’s progress this year and be worried that your child has fallen behind their age-related expectations. It’s worth remembering that all children are in the same situation, and this has widely been recognised by the government and education experts, so it is expected that much of the next term will be spent ensuring all children are able to catch up to where they should be.

Do I Need To Continue Home Learning Over The Summer?

child making geometric shapes, engineering and STEM

No! Absolutely not. This pandemic has made life difficult for so many people in so many different ways, and if you have battled on through home learning, or perhaps you have a child who simply refused to engage full stop, then the idea of home learning during the school holidays probably horrifies you. We have all encountered the same storm (Coronavirus) but we have all been sailing through it in different boats, so it’s ok to say, “No, thanks, that’s enough for us, we’re going to kick back for six weeks and forget about education full stop.”

On the other hand, some families have found that the regular routine of daily lessons has helped them get through lockdown, as it has provided a structure that the family can work with. You may decide that you want to continue with some form of home learning over the summer to help you break up the long six weeks until the children can (hopefully) return to school.

Activities For Home Learning During The Summer Holidays

Smiling little girl drawing with chalk hopscotch on playground. Child playing the game outside. Kid wearing dress during playing hopscotch drawn on pavement. Activities for children.

If you do decide to keep learning during the summer, then you may want to consider some alternative activities for your children beyond the worksheets and books that they may have been completing at home. That way, you can strike a healthy balance between doing nothing (which is also ok!) and returning your child to school exhausted after spending hours a day completing handwriting practice. Here we have a selection of activities and programmes to try that combine education with fun.

1. CREST Awards

CREST is a government supported scheme to promote STEM subjects to children and young people. It has been running since the 1980s and has seen tens of thousands of students access the programmes it provides, so you know that the quality of the scheme can be trusted. For primary children, there is the option to sign up to the Star (5-7 years) and SuperStar (7-11 years) programmes, which involve eight challenges to complete. Each challenge will take around an hour to complete and the learning resources required are available to download. Once your child has completed all eight challenges, he or she will receive a certificate and a badge.

There is a cost to this, but as it is heavily subsidised by the government, each child can be signed up for just £1, which is a total bargain. However, it is worth pointing out that there is a minimum charge of £5, so you may want to see if you can get together with another family to sign up your children together. That being said, the resources are free to access, so you can do the challenges without registering, but your child won’t get the certificate and badge at the end. You can find all the resources here.

2. The Summer Reading Challenge

The Summer Reading Challenge is back for 2020, despite the pandemic. Obviously, the team behind this annual reading challenge have had to make things a bit different this year whilst libraries remain closed or with limited access. Normally children are encouraged to visit their local library and borrow around half a dozen books to read during the summer holidays, but this year the challenge is going digital. Children are invited to sign up to the challenge online and agree to read a set number of books over the holidays.

They will receive digital awards for each book they read and log the details of onto the website. The website also lets your child choose the types of books he or she likes to read, such as “fantasy” or “fairy tales” and then provides a selection of recommended books to read based on their choices and age. The website also has quizzes and games to play based on literary characters. It’s completely free to join up and if your child is struggling to access new material to read then the website also has links to websites that provide free eBooks to borrow. Find out more here.

3. Time Trials

Combine maths, geography and fitness with this fun activity that will get your children outdoors and exploring their local area. Using a map of your town, plot a circular route starting at your house that will take you to some interesting places in your neighbourhood. Then you can choose to walk, run, or cycle the route, timing yourselves as you do it, and using a smart phone to measure the distance.

Once you have the initial route set up, you can take it again and again, timing yourselves each time and recording the outcome. Can you get faster and faster as the holidays progress? You could also use this as a way of introducing spreadsheets to your child. What other data could you record during the walk / run / ride? What was the weather like? How many birds did you spot?

4. Learn About A Different Country

Maybe there’s a country that your child has always wanted to go to, or one where distant relatives live. Over the summer, you could do a variety of activities based around that country with a view to learning more about its culture and history. Are there some traditional meals you could try and cook together? Is there a sport or dance that is very popular there that you could learn at home? You could also explore maps of the country, perhaps learn a few words from their language, and throw in some maths by looking at possible ways to travel there, with journey times and costs explored.

5. Teach Your Child To Code

During lockdown, most schools have focused on the core subjects of English and Maths for their home learning provision, so the summer holiday period is a great opportunity to have a look at other areas that are equally important. One example is computer coding. As technology becomes an increasingly bigger part of our lives it’s clear that tomorrow’s generation of workers will probably need to have, at the very least, a basic understanding of coding. Thankfully, you don’t need to be a computer whizz kid to pass on the basics to your child. In fact, there are so many websites out there offering free coding resources that it can be hard to know what is worth checking out. Here are a selection of websites offering free activities to kids that are widely used by UK schools:

  • Barefoot Computing was set up by UK teachers and is funded by BT. They have a home learning section with some fantastic free resources here.
  • Computing At School is a membership organisation for teachers of IT and is supported by the BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT. Its aim is to improve IT education in the UK and it recognises the role home education has to play in this. That’s why it offers free learning resources for parents. You can access them here.
  • Scratch was developed by the MIT Media Lab in the USA and it’s a wonderful free resource that will teach your child how to code through computer games, something almost all children love. Children can create their own games, animations and more. Find out more here.
  • Code.org is a not for profit organisation that was set up in the USA to promote computer science. Its resources are now used in schools around the world and it too has a plethora of home learning resources available to use for free. The activities are simple and have various themes. There are even Minecraft themed projects so your children can get their daily fix of Minecraft whilst you sneak in some learning!