For children, summer vacation is a golden block of free time: fewer obligations, no school, and even better for some—no homework! For parents, it can be more of a juggling act. How do you balance your child’s need for a break with the desire to keep them from losing progress they’ve made over the school year? I’d like to suggest three strategies to help your kids have fun, but still be ready to jump back into learning in the fall.
Strategy #1: Encourage your children to read.
It doesn’t matter what they read: magazines that appeal to their interests or align with their hobbies, chapter books or picture books, graphic novels or newspapers—whatever gets them excited about reading.  Take them to the library on weekends, or challenge them to read a certain number of books before the end of the summer. Reading sparks the imagination and keeps brains active.  If your child isn’t a strong reader, or is still learning, audiobooks are great way to help them grow. It’s even better if you can give them a hard copy of the book they’re listening to that they can use to follow along. Even better, incorporate this strategy with strategy #2 and read aloud with your children. Studies show that reading aloud improves students’ chances of success in school.  
Strategy #2: Spend time with your children.
As children get older and more able to take care of themselves, they also get less of their parents’ time. The average parent spends less than an hour a day playing with their children over the age of 6.  Show your children you value them with your time. Set aside family time as often as you can: play games, go for walks, or read together. You’ll help develop crucial social and conversation skills, build their behavior skills, and get a chance to learn how your child is feeling. Children who feel valued at home have a better chance at being successful in school, so it’s important to take advantage of extra time in summer to build those family ties!  
Strategy #3: Incorporate “real world” learning when you can.
Show your children how learning and school matter by helping them find opportunities to practice what they’ve learned. Show them how to estimate how much something will cost with rounding skills at a restaurant, or let young children practice counting or measuring ingredients when you make dinner. Encourage them to identify shapes, share history lessons they’ve learned about in school, or play word games with nouns or verbs (e.g., come up with a noun for every letter in the alphabet, do MadLibs or crossword puzzles, tell stories, etc). The more connections you can help your kids find to what they already know, the more you strengthen that learning and help them build a good foundation for the future.