Authored by Pattie Carroll
The long lazy days of summer are actually a time when children continue to grow and develop. Simple, everyday activities you do with your children can make the best memories and teach them important new skills. Summer is a time when parents can bond with their kids and boost their cognitive, motor, communication, and social-emotional skills at the same time!
Outdoor activities are an opportunity to build motor skills. Choose activities that involve both gross motor skills (running, hopping, climbing, catching) and fine motor skills (grasping tools, digging, drawing, stacking). Try one of these ideas. Make an outdoor “adventure path” or an “obstacle course” for children to follow. Go for a walk and collect items like rocks and leaves and sort them into categories or create a map of your neighborhood.
Build Literacy Skills
Shared reading is one of the single most important activities you can do with a young child. It is a fun way to bond and relax together after a long day. Reading together strengthens your child’s communication and language skills and lays a foundation for early literacy development. Try this while reading together: ask your child what happened at the beginning, middle, and end of the story, or have your child act out the story with you and pretend to be different characters.
Build Social Emotional Skills
Kids love to feel important and needed, so giving them special 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 water the flowers, while older children can prepare their afternoon snack, fold and put away laundry, or help weed the garden.
Finally, 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.
Healthychildren.org is the American Academy of Pediatrics website for families and caregivers. It has resources on many areas related to raising healthy children, including early literacy. You will also find a bank of articles about family life and COVID-19. Check it out.
Locally, TalkReadPlay is a community awareness campaign designed to teach parents and caregivers about the science of early brain development and help them create more brain building opportunities with their babies and young children. Find more TalkReadPlay resources here: talkreadplaywi.com
All the Best,
Patricia Carroll | UW-Madison, Division of Extension
Associate Professor, Dept of Family Development
Human Development & Relationships Educator, Dodge County