Family Matters: Work is child’s play when learning is fun

Diana Boggia

Children can fall behind in their learning over the summer without reinforcement and continuous skill-building. While daily drills aren’t necessary, look for opportunities that will encourage your child to explore and learn. Give your young superstar a summer filled with stimulating activities to pique his interest while maintaining or even enhancing math, science and reading skills.

Build math skills

From simple to challenging, try number counting and recognition. Count all day long! Count the number of steps, the number of cars that drive by, the number of groceries you put into your cart, the days on the calendar, etc. Practice counting by twos when you purchase a six-pack of soda, for example. Allow your child to count change at the checkout. Save, count and roll a collection of 50 pennies. Look for and identify numbers everywhere, including speed limit signs, mailbox addresses, numbers on phones and clocks and page numbers in a book.

Cooking is a fun opportunity to enhance math measurement skills. Pull out your measuring cups and a timer for your little chef to explore. Use refrigerator rolled cookie dough to slice, cut and bake numbers. Or mix and measure Jell-O to refrigerate in small, measured servings, or pour into a pan and cut into shapes of squares and triangles.

Practice sorting by separating and matching clean socks to be put away. Sort groceries in the cart according to food groups. Sort cans and bottles by size while unpacking groceries. Sort coins. Start a 50-piece puzzle with an interesting theme, and leave it on a table for everyone to add a piece as they pass by.

Enhance listening

Read or tell a story, and leave out obvious key words for your child to offer. Start a silly story for your child to finish. Take turns playing a sound game by making a noise that needs to be identified. For example, say, “Swish, swish, swish” and see if your child can guess wipers. You’ll know your child is listening each time he responds.

Ignite reading and language

Read, read, read! Summertime is a great time to read every day. Pull up a hammock, a lawn chair or spread a blanket under a tree. Books with a math theme include “Ten, Nine, Eight” by Molly Bang; “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle; “1,2,3 to the Zoo” by Eric Carle; “Rooster’s Off to See the World” by Eric Carle; “The Doorbell Rang” by Pat Hutchins; “Cluck O’Clock” by Kes Gray; “Telling Time with Big Mama Cat” by Dan Harper; “Benny’s Pennies” by Pat Brisson; “Cubes, Cones, Cylinders & Spheres” by Tana Hoban.

Chapter books stimulate language skills and help to maintain interest and excitement as your child looks forward to the next part of each adventure. Exceptional chapter books to read aloud for preschool and up include: “The Chalk Box Kid” by C.R. Bulla; “Ready for Takeoff!” by Jessica S. Kevin; “Catwings” by Ursula LeGuin; “Frog and Toad are Friends” by Arnold Lobel; “Owl at Home” by Arnold Lobel; “Winnie the Pooh” by A.A. Milne; “Busybody Nora” by Johanna Hurwitz.

Be an intentional teacher this summer by building skills and self-confidence, while ensuring that your child is ready to go back to school.

Diana Boggia, M.Ed., is a parenting educator. Find additional parenting resources at her website,