6 Ways to Boost Your Child’s Development This Summer
For many families, the long sunny days between June and September offer lots of chances to reconnect and have fun together. While it’s great to plan special family outings like a trip to the beach, sometimes the simple, everyday activities you do with your children can make the best memories (and teach them important new skills). Here are 6 things to do with your child this summer—to bond with them and boost their cognitive and social-emotional skills at the same time!
1. Do an outdoor activity every day you can
When the rain stays away and the sun’s not too scorching, give your child’s motor skills a pick-me-up with fun outdoor activities. Choose activities that involve both gross motor skills (running, hopping, climbing, catching) and fine motor skills (grasping tools, digging, drawing, stacking). Make an outdoor “adventure path” or obstacle course for children to follow, collect items like rocks and shells and sort them into categories, go for a walk and create a map of your neighborhood, or take turns moving like different animals.
2. Read to them every night
Shared reading is one of the single most important activities you can do with a young child. Not only is it a fun way to bond and relax together after a long day, it also strengthens your child’s communication and language skills and sets the stage for early literacy development.
Engage your child while you read—ask them what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story, or have the child act out the story with you and pretend to be different characters. (For more tips on making the most of shared reading with your child, check out this post on the Inclusion lab blog.)
3. Give them special jobs to do around the house
Kids love to feel important and needed, so giving them their own official “summer jobs” will boost their confidence—and help strengthen their social and motor skills. Select age-appropriate jobs for them: toddlers can take on table-wiping duty or help you sweep up the floor, while older children can prepare their afternoon snack, fold and put away laundry, or sort silverware into different compartments in the drawer. To practice their cooperation skills, siblings can work together on a bigger job like making lunch.
4. Set up little mysteries for them to solve
To keep young minds active during the hot summer months, challenge them with fun “mysteries” that engage and expand their problem-solving skills.
Hide one of five toys and then ask your child which one is missing, send them on a treasure hunt with a map you drew, give them silly or interesting riddles to solve, and make a simple repeating pattern with blocks or beads and ask your child to finish it.
5. Enhance daily activities with simple, skill-boosting games
With just a dash of creativity, your daily activities can be learning experiences that enrich your child’s communication, social, and problem-solving skills. While walking through the neighborhood, read signs together or make up funny nonsense phrases and see if your child can repeat them back. You can also have your child search for specific letters and numbers on signs and cars, or put pictures of things you’ll see on your walk in an envelope and have your child pull out the images when you return to remind you of what you saw. As you’re driving, ask your child to count all the blue cars, animals, or tall things that pass by. Daily activities can boost development while you’re both having fun, and your child will pick up new skills as a bonus!
6. Talk about your day at the dinner table
Family dinners are a great way to help your kids develop social-emotional skills. This summer, whenever you can, gather the whole family around the table for dinnertime and let each family member take turns talking about their day. Help your child share stories about the day by giving a little gentle prompting. You might say, “Latoya and I went for a nice walk today. Latoya, tell your sister who we saw on our walk.” (For more social-emotional skill-boosters for children ages 2 months through 5 years, print these free ASQ:SE-2 activity sheets.)
With the tips in this article—and your own creative ideas—you can transform any summer day into a rich learning experience. The kids will be having so much fun, they’ll never guess you’re teaching them new skills they’ll use forever. Whatever activities you choose to do with your child this summer, enjoy exploring, discovering, and learning together!
The activities suggested in this post were adapted from the ASQ-3 Learning Activities and the ASQ:SE-2 Learning Activities.
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