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5 Ways to Play This Summer!

School’s out, and summer’s in, so it’s time to play all day, right? Sure, because young children learn through play!

If your child is going to preschool or VPK in the fall, intentional play over the summer can also help them prepare for their new early learning environment and avoid the “summer slide,” or the loss of skills they may have developed over the previous year. And you, as your child’s most important teacher, can learn and play with them.

Here are a few short fun activities which incorporate learning in key developmental areas:

Motor skills: Make a sidewalk chalk exercise course. Together, draw lily pads and hop like a frog to each one, or draw stars for jumping jacks and arrows for sprints. Your child can help you draw these little activities on your sidewalk or driveway, and then you can exercise together.

Literacy skills: Match a book with an activity. You can read “The Listening Walk” by Paul Showers and then create a listening scavenger hunt. After reading, write down things you may hear (or see, if you or your child has a hearing issue) on a walk in your neighborhood or at the park. Then go for the walk and check off what you experience.

STEM skills: Use your smartphone to research together a plant that will grow well in your environment, like a succulent or herb inside or a vegetable outside. You can measure the plant’s growth periodically and compare—how much have the leaves grown? If you grow herbs, you can talk about how these plants smell and taste. Brainstorm a recipe you can use your plant in—basil is delicious in spaghetti!

Social Studies: For young children, social studies means learning about their world and the environment around them. Continue with the “growing” theme by asking, where do your groceries come from? The store! But where does the store get them? You can talk about farmers, our community helpers, who help grow and harvest the food we eat. You could even plan a field trip to a farmer’s market or community garden.

Social-Emotional Skills: One important way you can help your child prepare for being in preschool or VPK is by developing social-emotional skills and independence. Children often love to do what you’re doing, and you can give them small responsibilities or tasks at home so they feel included. Make it play by putting on some fun tunes and do a clean-up dance; you can help them clean up their toys in their room, or you wipe down the dinner table or sweep up the floor.

Want more ways to play? Our “5 for 5 Challenge” series gives you five small, quick and easy activities you can do in five different developmental areas to support your child at home.

You can watch our 5 for 5 Challenge series on our YouTube channel, ELCHillsborough (!

Or join our next FREE online event Thursday, July 7, at 6:30 p.m. by signing up here:

Originally published in July 2021

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