Summer Learning:
8 Fun Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer Long

Most kids look forward to three months of nothing but fun and games, but, as a parent, you know that learning should take place year round.

And while it can be hard to get your child's attention among all the swimming pools, video games and television shows that they'd rather be spending their time on, it's important that you keep the learning going (at least at some level) during the summertime. That way, when they return to school in the fall, they'll be enriched and ready to learn.

Here are eight fun ways to keep your kids learning all summer long, including some educational websites your kids will love.

1. Ready, set, read! Start your summer learning adventure by heading to your local library. Most libraries offer reading programs each summer that challenge your child to read. They may have flyers to help your child stay on track and reading suggestions divided by age group. Taking a weekly trip to the local library will be a great family activity to look forward to each week. You may also want to treat your kids to a new book. (Check here for coupons to the Scholastic Book Warehouse.)

2. Find educational videos. Instead of letting your child sit in front of video games all summer long, why not make the process educational? There are many educational computer games and games for video game systems that allow your child to have fun and can help them keep up to date with their basic skills at the same time. Keep in mind though that too many computer games, educational or not, will reduce your child's activity level, so make sure to use the video games in moderation.

3. Check out some free learning websites for kids. Three to try: Funbrain.com, math.com and abcteach.com (which has printable worksheets). If your kids prefer online communities, try Webkinz.com, which requires the purchase of a webkinz toy; ClubPenguin.com, which is geared for 6 to 14 year olds and is free to play but also has activities that required a paid membership; and WhyVille.net, a free online community for pre-teen and teen boys and girls.
Here are more product reviews and ideas for educational tools:
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Enchanted Learning

4. Visit local landmarks.  Summer is a perfect time to discover, or re-discover, the unique learning opportunities in your neighborhood. If you haven't been to the local museum or other historic location within driving distance of your home, now is the time to do it. Make sure to talk about the history, science or other subject you'll be learning about so your kids can get the most out of the experience. Big metropolitan museums, zoos or landmarks are also great destinations during the summer. Even though gas is expensive, a road trip every now and then may be just what the teacher ordered.

5. Treat everyone to a fun workbook. Allow each of your children to choose a comprehensive workbook that they can work on a bit each day. Some workbooks cover math, reading, social studies and science. You might want to work out an incentive program to make sure they get their worksheets done each day. For example, each worksheet equals one ticket. Once they reach five tickets, everyone is rewarded with a few hours at the pool or a run through the sprinklers.

6. Get your game on. Play some educational, age-appropriate games, such as Scrabble, Boggle or chess. Purchase some family favorites in travel editions so the kids can play them on car rides and on vacation.

7. Get ready for the next grade level. Learning during summer vacation can also take a more formal role in your child's life. If there was a subject your kids struggled with during the school year, now is the time to get tutoring or enroll them in a program to help them catch up. Make the experience fun by balancing their study time with some good old-fashioned family fun.

8. Vacation is the perfect time for sharing non-traditional lessons with your child that expose them to concepts they won't find in regular school. If they learned about plants this year in school, help them plant their own garden so they can see the concepts in action. Reinforce their knowledge of fractions and measurements by having daily or weekly cooking lessons with you in your kitchen. Many schools have had to cut back on arts and music, so summer gives you the perfect opportunity to let your child's creative side flourish.

If you tried to pack all of these ideas into one summer, you'd have a tired kid on your hands! Pick a few to try and keep the learning going throughout summer. By making learning fun, your child won't realize they are learning at all.