Summer is almost upon us! Here at Epic, our students enjoy a long summer – from June through Labor Day – and have a chance to relax and be free of the pressures of assignments, deadlines, and assessments. But it’s far too easy for the kiddos to slide through summer hiding behind a screen. With some planning though, we can keep our kid’s minds and bodies engaged so when September comes, they aren’t spending the first month relearning forgotten material.

Here are eight fun ideas to keep your kids learning throughout the summer.

1. Summer Reading Program

Our local library has a summer reading program that encourages kids to keep reading throughout the summer by offering various prizes – like free food at some of our favorite local restaurants or free books! If your local library doesn’t have a program like this, create your own. Allow your kids to pick books that interest them and give them the challenge to read a certain number of books or pages for prizes.

2. Community Theater

Does your little one love the stage? Check out what shows your local community theater is putting on. Many theaters have acting/musical camps geared toward kids during the summer or get involved in a summer production. Many theaters are holding auditions now for their summer shows and a few hold audition workshops to teach kids what to expect. If your child doesn’t like to be front and center, they can become a stagehand for one of these shows. If being a part of a production is too much of a production, have students write and perform their own plays at home.

3. Become An Expert

At the beginning of summer, encourage your kids to pick something they want to learn how to do and spend the next 90 days perfecting it. Is your child interested in learning how to play the guitar? Or bake a delicious chocolate cake? Maybe they are interested in drawing or painting or dancing or engineering. Encourage your child to create a goal of becoming an expert in their chosen field by Labor Day. Plan a culminating activity to celebrate the mastery of their goal. They could give a small concert in the backyard or throw a party or bake sale with all their baked goods. Make it fun and celebrate their achievement.

[RELATED POST: Teaching Your Kids To Set Goals]

4. Plant a Garden

Planting a garden involves much planning, organizing, planting, and harvesting. It brings in math skills, science skills, life skills and more. Kids will learn the responsibility of watering and taking care of their plants as well. Plant a vegetable garden and let kids pick and eat the fruits of their labor. The kids will love to see where their food comes from and that they had a part in bringing their dinner to life.

5. Keep a Journal

Encourage your students to keep a journal of their summer activities. If they don’t like to write, have them keep an art journal and sketch the findings from nature or adventures. Add photos and clippings and turn the journal into a scrapbook.

6. Volunteer

Depending on the age of your kids, there may be various opportunities available to them to volunteer with a community organization or group. If they aren’t quite old enough to meet the age requirements, look for ways to help neighbors and friends. Perhaps a friend could use a dog walker or an elderly neighbor could use some company. When I was a child, I spent much of my free time across the street at my elderly neighbor’s house. The couple would regale me with stories of WWII and Pearl Harbor, I would help make cookies and then I’d type stories on their brand new word processor. Those are some of my richest memories of my childhood.

7. Play Board Games

Designate one night of the week as “Family Game Night,” and pull out the old board games! There are many games that involve strategy, math skills, and/or language skills. Classics like Scrabble Jr., Bingo, Monopoly, Memory, Bananagrams and new ones like our family’s favorite, Settlers of Catan, provide hours of fun and laughs. Even better, have your kids design and make their own board games and add it to the repertoire of family games.

8. Day Trips

Can’t go on a vacation over the summer? Be a tourist in your own city. Explore the history of your town and visit the tourist sites. Try out a new restaurant in your neighborhood. Bring a camera and let your child document what he/she sees on your tour. Buy a magnet, postcard or t-shirt to document your adventure.

Summer can be fun and educational! What are your favorite things to do over the summer? Comment below.