Summertime means no school for most kids. It also means the same thing for their teachers (mostly)! But summertime should not mean no school for parents but a time for more learning, exploring, and expanding of our children’s interests. Rather than being limited to the traditional classroom curriculum, the summer offers children an opportunity to learn about many other things in their world. Summer vacation gives them the chance to pursue new interests, and parents can foster a new, lifelong pursuit of knowledge, personal growth, and a willingness to put forth the effort to improve skills.
I am not suggesting that parents view the summer as an opportunity for their children to get ahead of the other kids on the learning curve. Nor do I want kids to miss out on the fun of and opportunity for unstructured time during summer. However, the freedom of an extra 8 to 10 hours of non-school time during the weekday offers different learning opportunities to explore.
Here are some of the best technology-based learning tools for this summer:
Reading – Epic!
Epic! is a subscription-based digital library of 25,000 books (as of December of 2017) aimed at children 12 and under that includes fiction, non-fiction, STEM, biographies, graphic novels, and DIY among its genres. There are also read-to-me books, audiobooks, quizzes, and a variety of different types of videos. Users are allowed up to four profiles, each customized to the age and preferences of the child creating it.
Founded by Suren Markosian (also who founded CrowdStar, which rose to become one of the largest social gaming companies, with over 200 million users), Epic! was designed to make a digital library of books available to all kids. Markosian considered that books were not free on the iPad and that the user interface was not friendly for kids. Epic! allows kids to choose the types of books they want to read. There are are many books for struggling readers that offer an audiobook with follow-along word highlighting where readers can magnify or underline the words as they are read to them. This is a fantastic tool for kids who have difficulty with reading fluency and decoding skills.
Exploring – BrainPOP!
Perennially one of our favorites at LW4K, BrainPOP is one of the best tools for expanding children’s interests in an engaging way. It’s fun, there’s always something new, and it supports learning. Plus, there are many games that bring children back day after day as they continue to read, learn, and explore.
BrainPOP is a Web environment created for kids K-12 that not only contains rich educational content and games but is also visually appealing, engaging, and fun. Kids won’t even think about the fact that they’re reading and working on their academic skills as they browse the reading content, work on a project (like learning how to make a movie), or “Game Up” with BrainPOP’s vast collection of on-site activities. There are even sections just for K-3 kids (BrainPOP Jr.) and ESL users.
Expanding – SmartFeed
It’s not just reading and websites that provide great summer learning opportunities. Finding ways to expand your children’s interests to want to go outdoors, explore new places, and try new activities is also important for summer learning. Watching movies and documentaries designed for kids on these topics can also help to expand their learning.
At Smartfeed.com, parents can identify these tools along with goals for learning such as skills such as empathy, understanding diversity, or developing a sense of global citizenship. We encourage you to check it out and to use some of our own recommendations for movies to improve executive functions.
Featured image: Flickr user Franck Michel