Every year, I have a series of moms ask me about workbooks and classes over the summer. Research shows that the “Summer Slide” is a real thing. We should be concerned about keeping our kids mentally and academically sharp through their break. On the other hand, we all know intuitively that our brains need a rest!

How do we handle these two seemingly opposing thoughts? I admit; I am an outspoken advocate for summer as rest time. But I certainly don’t believe in brains becoming mush. Summer can be a time to engage our kids minds in different styles of learning. Rather than plowing through pages of a workbook, the kids can experience real life versions of the work they do in the classroom. Here are a few ideas to cover the three major R’s of academic focus, Reading, Writing, and (A)rithmetic, without the pen and paper.

Reading

This would be the most obvious of the three major subjects. Most parents will have their kids read a book during time off. Make sure that you keep it new and fresh from what your kids will be using in the classroom. Leave room for comics, graphic novels, and audio books. You can even ask them to research a particular subject or teach you an activity (like how to juggle). The key to all of this reading is to talk with them. Find some way that they can react to what they read by asking questions or discussing the ideas.

Writing

Getting kids to write can be very complicated. Try to tap into their own interests like asking them to write a story or a blog or create comic strips. Because they aren’t in school, allow kids to use whatever subjects they’d like, even writing fan fiction based on a book they read.

Arithmetic

Math can be difficult to imagine without a very straight forward book of problems. But summer is a chance to rearrange things so that they can use numbers in a real way. Have kids tally the total at a grocery store, calculate gas mileage per gallon, or double or half recipes in the kitchen.

Extras!

This year, my kids want to focus their time on coding. I also plan on taking them on several day trips. These are the fun extras that round out what they learn in school. Who has time to include things like adventurous hikes, art projects, or bird watching? But they’re important. Let summer give you the freedom to explore these supplemental ideas!

Whatever you choose to do, make sure to include down time and rest for yourself and your children. Hopefully, this time will refresh your mind. No matter what, your children will benefit from your investment in their lives.