I feel ya, Jeff.

Summer in our house is already a long run of day camps. The boys love bike riding, LEGO building, and the adventure, but there’s not much unstructured about the weekdays of our summer so far.

With 2 working parents, our boys will be adventuring outside more formal classroom settings, but it’s still not the ultimate free range that many kids get in the summer.

We’ll camp, we’ll adventure, we’ll road trip, and we’ll settle in for some serious school work.

Okay, maybe not ‘serious’ but I don’t want my kids to take 10 weeks off. We have had literacy challenges right from the beginning, and with things clicking for my kids at the end of the school year, I don’t want to lose that momentum.

So I’ve set a reading challenge for them.

Encyclopedia Brown

It’s simple, really, I’m going to be tossing some coins and dollars in jars for them after they complete a book. But they not only have to read the book, they have to show they understand it. This could be a written book report, answering some questions from me, or creating a video book report.

Yes, video book reports. Get ready for a ton of The Zacharie Show this summer with many more episodes like this:

I don’t want my kids to get ground down over the summer, but I don’t want their progress to slide away.

We’re trying to find a happy medium by setting a challenge that could earn them money for LEGO, encouraging them to learn more STEM skills by producing videos, and still giving them a summer of varied experiences and tangential learning at fun day camps.

We’re also taking part in the Summer Reading Club at the Calgary Public Library. They picked up some booklets and Reading Ballots. Then they get reading! Kids need to read for two hours each week (or be read to) and track their reading on the Reading Ballots. Upon returning their completed ballots, kids will be entered in a draw to win one of 20 $100 gift cards to Toys “R” Us.

Summer Reading Club

Yes, some say we shouldn’t incentivize learning for our kids. They say bribery doesn’t make them want to do it, but you need to do what works. I’ve already seen that small carrots are that bit of inertia to get my kids started, and then their love of stories is what keeps it going. If the chance to buy some LEGO at the end of the summer is what gets them to pick up a book and start reading, then that’s an investment I’m willing to make.

Here are some more resources and websites for you to check out for ideas to stop ‘summer slide’ in math with your kids:

How are you working to stop summer slide with your kids? Is it all free range play or are you incorporating some reading incentives?

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