I am sharing these top learning games for kids (both online & offline) as a way to help our kids avoid the summer slide. There is a reason the old saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” has been around for so long. Over the summer, kids lose a lot of what they’ve learned during the school year, so I try to keep our kids engaged with new games & activities, including kids learning games that we play at home, and even free educational games that I find on kids websites.
During the summer months, while on break, most children have a decline in academic skills such as math & reading ability. This is known as the”Summer Slide.” According to the department of education, only 48% of parents have ever heard of it, so many parents don’t realize that they should be working on ways to avoid it happening to their children.
Research shares that the Summer Slide matters:
I remember when I was in college, I read a study that proved that kids lose around two months of reading skills & two-three of math skills by not doing math facts practice. In fact, it showed that by the time a child reaches middle school, they have lost around two years of learning due to the summer slide. I just checked to see if it was still the case, and sure enough… it’s still true today.
This means that when our kids go back to school, teachers are spending almost 6 weeks re-teaching them the things that they learned last year, just to get them back to where they were at the end of the previous school year. That means that if you are working with your child and encouraging your child to continue to learn over the summer, your child will learn MORE, while the majority of their peers are losing what they’ve learned.
What does the Summer Slide look like?
- Everyone starts summer in the middle of the hill.
- Your child continues to learn & has access to educational resources over the summer, so your child walks UP the hill during the summer- retaining what they’ve learned AND having gained knowledge.
- At the same time, the majority of their peers are sliding DOWN the hill, losing what they’ve learned.
- When the summer is over, where do you want your child to be? At the top of the hill or at the bottom of the hill? If they are at the bottom, they have to work for 6 weeks to get back to the top, since teachers spend 6 weeks re-teaching what the kids have lost over the summer.
- It is certainly not a competition, but it is the (unfortunate) truth of what the summer slide looks like for our children.
As parents, we have the opportunity to help our child to be the best that THEY can be, and learning is always a great choice. If we’re going to help our children learn and succeed in life, it is important to give the summer months the attention it deserves.
After all, we only have 18 summers with our kids. Let’s make the most of them.
How can we teach our kids while still giving them a summer BREAK?
It’s way easier than most people think (and it requires way less time.) I think when I tell people that I work with the kids over the summer, they think I’m teaching an all-day summer school, but that’s just not the case… at all. (In fact, kids learn the most when they are playing & when they are engaged in what they are learning.)
- I have our kids read for at least 20 minutes a day, every day.
We do this as a family. We all stop what we are doing, grab a book or a magazine, go somewhere comfy & read for 20 minutes. They can read longer, and they often do, but it has to be at least 20 minutes.Finding a book that kids love is a great way to help them enjoy reading. It’s nice to teach the kids that this is a great way to relax, too. “Curl up with a good book.” You can find free educational websites that have online books for kids to read. PBS kids have online books, for example.
- I take them to the library often to get books for the week.
(NOTE: I keep the library books in a basket in the same area, so they don’t get lost. The kids take one book out of the basket at a time & I ask them to return it when they are finished.)We also have a ton of books at home (thanks to my years of being a teacher.) Giving kids easy access to books improves their retention and increases their skills significantly.I pick out books on different levels, too. The easier books build fluency (words per minute read with ease) & confidence for the long term reader, but the harder books push them just a bit to help them grow. I’ll even do a page by page reading with the kids, where it’s part time “mom” reading and part-time “kids” reading for some of the more difficult books (I read a page, they read a page). It introduces them to new words & harder leveled books without frustrating them.
- Keep it fun.
We play in the summer… a lot! We do experiments (Our 11 & 12 year like to old look up science experiments to try.) We go on mini-field trips, we practice writing and we play free kids learning games online. Research proves that digital educational games for kids make reading, math, science, and social studies engaging & fun for the kids, especially during the summer.
Should kids have online time in the summer?
To be honest, I am not a huge fan of electronics for kids. In fact, we heavily limit the time that our children can be on their electronics. When our kids are on electronics, I take a lot of precautions. I don’t let them know their passwords for the app stores or websites, I use the Family Link App from Gooogle, I have them swap chores for screentime to have extra electronic time.
In the summer, when they are looking for a break from the outdoors or from playing, I’ll allow 30 minutes of “educational electronic time” so they can play (their new favorite game), Adventure Academy. Playing this game is nice because they THINK they are playing a fun online game that is entertaining, but it’s actually an educational learning game.
Top (Offline) Learning Games: Top Board Games for Kids:
These are some board games kids love (and family board games that I enjoy playing, too!)
- Sequence for Kids – a strategy game your kids will love.
- 21 (the card game where you try to get to 21)
- Scrabble Junior for Kids
- Battleship this fast paced game was always my brother’s favorite!
- Brain Freeze
- Brain Quest Game
Top (Online) Learning Games for Kids on educational websites for kids:
- ABCMouse.com (Free 1 month trial)
- Adventure Academy (Free 1-month trial. Great for older kids ages 8-13) I love this cooperative game because the kids play together.
- National Geographic for Kids
- PBS Kids
- Brain Pop
- Prodigy Math Games
- Hooda Math
- Fun Brain
- Star Fall
- Reflex Math (they have a 30-day free trial)
Bonus: This next one is for typing, but I really like it.
- Typingclub.com I have seen a lot of free learning to type websites, but Tying Club is my favorite. The keyboard gaming challenges on the website encourages the kids to have fun while memorizing letter & key placement, as well as learning to type quickly.
Our kids do the keyboarding practice lessons with end-of-lesson learning games for kids typing. These websites have fun learn to type games for kids so it is a fun challenge.I’ve also heard great things about Khan Academy & Dance Mat Typing but we’ve never tried either of them, so I can’t give an opinion one way or another.
Top Game for Younger Kids:
ABCMouse.com my top pick for an educational online site/app for kids ages 2-7. ABCMouse is filled with educational games for toddlers and preschool learning games. The kids preschool learning games in ABCMouse are a great place to begin for younger children. They offer a free month trial. Once they are past the age of 7, I suggest moving over to Adventure Academy.
Top Game for Older Kids: Adventure Academy
Adventure Academy is my top pick for older kids. It’s really a great learning website for older kids. It is filled with elementary & middle school learning games. It was made by the creators of ABCMouse and it is one of my favorite educational websites for older kids. They even offer a 30-day free trial. They have learning games for 8 year olds all the way to games for 13 year old kids. It is similar to a ‘learn math app’ or a ‘learn science app’ but it covers all subjects, instead of just one.
Since our three older boys (ages: almost 9, 11 & almost 13) play on it at the same time, they all play it together at the kitchen table. I’ll overhear them telling each other about new zones they’ve unlocked, or how they have earned enough to change up their avatars or buy decorations for their online house.
The best part is that to do those things, they have to complete LEARNING quests. (yay!) Since it is made for kids 8-13, they have games for our 8 year old, educational games for 5th graders (like our 11 year old) and games for our 12 year old (almost 13).
They work on so many skills like reading comprehension, main idea, writing, vocabulary development, mathematical operations, fractions, word problems, multiplication & division, play and learn science, earth science, life science, physical science, US state games where they learn the 50 states, world geography, American history, and more. Some of the quests are similar to a party game that you might play – where you have to find different clues.
We ended up upgrading to a year-long subscription (it’s very affordable & half off if you buy a year at a time). 😉 It’s 100% Child Safe, so I don’t have to worry or wonder what they are up to when they are on it, and they can play it using any device. I liked it so much that I became an affiliate and talked to them for quite a while about the program before sharing it with you & other parents, teachers & grandparents.
While I don’t think that they offer gift cards for a subscription, this would make a great birthday gift for a child – a year-long subscription! I would just print out a picture of the website & write “One Year Subscription for You!” in the card. 🙂