As a devoted teacher, you’ve spent the school year helping your students master new concepts, increase their knowledge and get ready to tackle the next grade level. Before you set them loose into the freedom of summer, it’s not a bad idea to give parents a friendly reminder to adopt an always-learning mindset. Summer learning loss is real. Even the best parents can sometimes use some inspiration to help them find ideas to fill the time with enriching experiences. What better person to help them than you?

Luckily, it doesn’t take a lot of preparation to pull together some ideas for the kids to take home, so your departing students can keep those synapses firing strong all summer long.

Advocate: We all get it. Parents are busy, and the last thing they want is to be bombarded with guilt that they have to do yet one more thing to make sure their kids turn out all right. Still, it’s worthwhile to make your case to parents that learning loss happens, but if parents take the lead to encourage their kids to stretch their minds over the summer, it helps a lot!

Brainstorm: Your lesson plan is the first place to start in your mission to keep at least some of the key concepts of math, reading, social studies and science alive in their minds. If you had your wish and they would return to just a few things, what would those things be?

Then, come up with some simple, fast, fun ideas they could complete at home. Of course, the activities are not required — just a launching point, whether the kids end up wading the knowledge pool or dutifully swimming laps!

Create a concept: That packet of year-end worksheets always looks impressive, but you know and the parents know that convincing most kids to bust through all that paperwork during the summer is akin to entering a battle. If you take some of those small, digestible concepts and package them up into a fun and simple challenge, you may get a higher participation rate. How about a summer scavenger hunt? A printable scout-style book of badges, a summer bingo card, or just a stack of cards to draw as part of choosing a fun activity are all ways to go. What’s even better is if the challenges tie right into your curriculum, so they can apply and practice what they’ve learned.

What appears on your summer challenge entirely depends on what you teach, of course. But here are a few engaging ideas well suited for elementary students.

  • Plan and prepare a meal or a snack from scratch.
  • Create a paper airplane challenge for hands-on fun, almost limitless possibility and a lesson in physics.
  • Construct a word-of-the-day challenge.
  • During a trip or even a visit to a local place, send a postcard to Grandma, a best friend or even the teacher.
  • Sign up for a citizen science project and help a real scientist with their research!
  • Visit a museum. Create a list of must-see destinations and off-the-beaten-path sites that stimulate and interest kids. If you need a jump start, use the search tools on American Alliance of Museums.
  • Set up a stand to sell lemonade, cold drinks and snacks, and make change.
  • During the fair or festival, take a break from the cotton candy and carnival rides and visit some local politicians’ booths. If they have materials that outline campaign promises, bring them home and have a talk at the kitchen table about the pros and cons of their stances and ideas.

Round up: Since parents can’t do it all, get the word out about the great summer enrichment classes that are taking place right in your community. When kids get exposure to hands-on, real-world experiences, it builds new brain connections, which can better put those classroom lessons into context next year. Check your school district, community ed and other places. Chances are, a class organizer will be more than happy to drop off a stack of fliers! Get in touch with your local Bricks 4 Kidz franchise for the rundown on our summer camps and other opportunities for enriching summer fun.