So if you have a school age child at home for the summer, I’m sure you have realized that they have a new need to stay busy and productive. My kindergarten son is now home all day every day, and it was immediately apparent to me that we needed to keep his reading, writing, and math skills in practice. We use my younger daughter’s daily nap time as quiet time for my almost first grade son to do what we call “Summer Learning Stations” . We set up seven different stimulating and appealing stations for my little school going boy so he could practice all of the skills that he learned at school last year. He adores this quiet time of day when he can get his “work” done , and I can get some work done at the same time too.
So, it wasn’t a week into summer vacation when I began to realize that my school age son needed a little something different in his day than he did the year before. A full year of kindergarten has really been amazing for his reading writing and math skills, and he really enjoys “working” as he calls it on those skills every day. I was finding that when I put my younger daughter down for a nap and tried to get some work done myself, he was wandering around all lost and bewildered trying to find something to do that occupied him for more than a minute or two.
He and I talked and decided on creating something to keep him busy doing all of the things that he enjoyed doing at school, but wasn’t getting set time to do each day now that he was on summer break. He told me about “work stations” that he did every Friday at school and mentioned that he would love to do them at home. The light bulb went off and we got to work creating a list of educational activities that he found to be fun and challenging that he could do each day during quiet time. He helped with the entire process which has really made him excited about his work stations each and every day.
Most stations include things like worksheets, word or number games and other activities. We stopped off at an educational learning store for some age appropriate workbooks and activities, but a lot of these things can be found and accessed online for free. Most of the supplies that we use are things that we already had around the house. I sort of helped him plan the work stations around what we had as to keep from having to go out and get things to make this a daily activity.
With my son’s help we decided on 7 stations:
1. Coloring (color by numbers or just fun character pages for coloring)
2. Listening / Reading (books that he can read on his own – or stories by CD to follow along with)
3. Sight Words ( color by word recognition, or other simple word worksheets and flash cards)
4. Stamping (stamps that allow for word and sentence building skills)
5. Math / Fun With Numbers (math worksheets and flash cards, counting bears and number games like dot to dot)
6. Play dough (play dough to write words, numbers, and build creatively)
7. Games (educational letter and word games, memory or counting games)
We made a poster as a guide so he could easily look and see what was next to do on his daily list. He decorated and decided on calling it Summer Learning Stations.
He then made little numbered tags to leave at each work station that correlated with the poster. I can’t get enough of his little handwriting and sweet spelling. He has learned so much in the last year and this was really fun for him to be able to write and do on his own.
We have all the supplies we need set aside in a large basket so when it is time to pick up – or get things out they are all in the same spot. The stations are set up throughout the living room and kitchen and he moves from one to the next as he wants. I tried setting timers, but he preferred to do it on his own time.
We also made a little workbook that I add stickers or signatures to as he finishes a the stations each day. That way – even if I am busy working I am still going through each of his stations that he has completed with him and…
1. Checking on his work and/or helping him
2. Making sure to congratulate him on his work and give him the motivation to do more
So far it has been a great addition to our days. He loves the one on one time where he can show off all of the cool things he has learned at school, and I love seeing and knowing where he is at and helping him learn more. It has been a great way for us to bond and work together and he is always very proud of his hard work. It also gives him something to share with dad when he gets home from work. This is great for rainy days, or for taking a break from the sunshine and having a little quiet time to hone up on his skills. My 4 year old has gotten in on the fun a few times too and she really enjoys the learning stations as well!
It has been a great way for me to feel like I am providing them with what they need even though they are on summer vacation, and having everything organized and ready really makes it easy to do each and every day.