Summer Fun—Ways to Stay Engaged During the Summer Months

By: Catherine Shea, FUSE Reading Teacher

The beginning of summer is an exciting time! It feels like it is full of possibilities and opportunities. We can use this time to build and expand our children’s innate curiosity and excitement about learning. Tapping into fun, authentic learning experiences can also solve the problem of “summer backslide” and keep parents and students from feeling overwhelmed or behind when school begins again.

Read. It sounds so simple, but I know it can be a challenge. Everyone knows how important reading is, but getting kids to read during the summer can feel like a herculean effort. Below are some ideas to help.

  1. Book Club! Start a book club with your child. This is an amazing experience. (As a reading teacher, I am lucky enough to have it each day!) Your child will love talking to you about the book you read together. Mix it up. Read out loud to each other sometimes and sometimes read alone silently. You will learn so much about how your child thinks and how you think.
  2. Look for a favorite! Librarians spend a lot of time studying books. Ask them to help find books that match your child’s interests. Pinterest is also full of book lists that can help. Here are a few ideas:
  • Kids love a series.
  • Comic books or graphic novels are great for reluctant or struggling readers.
  • Kids love a book that has been made into a movie. Read the book, then watch the movie and discuss the differences. What did the movie get right or wrong?
  • Strategy guides for video games are great ways to get video game fans to begin reading more.
  • Kids love historical fiction!
  • Look up lyrics to songs and sing them.
  • Don’t try to force kids to read what you think they should read. There are many things to read and comprehend in the world. Encourage them to read about things they are interested in and let them tell you what they learn.
  1. Incentives! Kids love prizes. It is amazing what they will do for a little recognition. (Again, as a reading teacher I speak from experience.) Plan something fun to do after your child finishes a book. Kids will do a lot of reading for a small reward.
  2. Drama! One of the most exciting parts of the year in our reading class is when we read and act out plays. Everyone is engaged. It is so much fun to create costumes and act out a play. Have some friends over and create a production.

Be Active.

  1. Be a tourist! Learn about the local history of the places you visit during summer break. Have your child do some research, read the guidebooks, and help you plan parts of your vacation. Each summer, my family visited Nags Head, NC, where we would see a play about the Lost Colony. After the play, we would read everything we could about that time and debate theories about what happened to those people. The play energized me to read, research, and discuss. If you are having a “staycation” this summer, be a tourist in your own town. Kids love to learn about local history. It helps them feel connected to and excited about the place they live.
  2. Plant a garden! You don’t need to dig up the yard! Your garden could be a couple of planters with your child’s choice of veggies in them. Encourage your child to research recipes and plan meals to cook when the veggies are ready. This will encourage him or her to read, plan, and measure! 
  1. Create a game! At my house we call this “Calvinball” in honor of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips. In the comics, Calvin often creates a haphazard game full of activity and creativity. Have the kids create a game with rules and equipment that gets everyone moving. Then, have the kids teach you the game. Strategize and problem solve about the rules when snags come up. As Calvin said, “The only permanent rule in Calvinball is that you can never play it the same way twice.”

Write. After you read all these wonderful books, take exciting trips, and create a fabulous dramatic production, encourage your child to write about it all. I know. This is another thing that sounds easy but is incredibly hard. Here are ways to make writing fun.

  1. Journals! Have your children write a couple of sentences about what they do each day during the summer. Letting them pick out a new journal to write in doesn’t hurt. Each week, read the journal together and talk about the things you did that week. (There is no need to check grammar or spelling. Just make it a fun bonding experience.)
  2. Blog! is a safe blogging site for kids to publish their ideas, gaming strategies, book reviews, and summer experiences. If you use a regular blogging site like WordPress, you can make the blog private, so that only family members can look at it. Encourage grandparents and other family members to comment on the blog. This makes the experience interactive and exciting!
  3. Create! Encourage your child to create art and crafts that include poetry and stories. Have readings and art shows to celebrate your child’s creativity. The Kitchen Table Classroom is a great blog to get ideas on how to incorporate reading and writing in arts and crafts projects. There are wonderful, printable templates to help you get started.

The most important thing we can do during the summer is model how we as parents are lifelong learners. Encourage your child to ask questions, research, and find answers. Look for answers with them, and let them teach you something new. It is also important not to fill every moment with an activity. Let them get bored and use their imaginations to create their own screen-free fun.

Summer Months…What to do?

By: Sally Allen, Director of Marketing & Development

School is almost over! Summer is almost here! “No more classes, no more books…” and nothing but sleep and gaming to keep students entertained after that first week of “freedom.” What’s a parent to do?  There are many opportunities for kids to be busy and happy during the summer break without sacrificing the parents’ sanity.

Community Service: Students of middle and high school age can benefit from spending part of their summer involved in community service.  Hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities are usually delighted to have young people young people volunteer their services at any time. Teens can serve as aides in hospitals at information desks and gift shops.  Students of all ages are welcomed by senior living facilities to read, play games, do hair and nails, or just hang out with the residents. Participants of both age groups benefit immensely from this interaction.

Classes:  Some high school students may be eligible to take college classes during the summer term after their junior year. Most of these classes are only four to five weeks in length and offer the chance to experience the college/university scene without plunging into full time scheduling.

Camps:  Nearly every student organization (Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, 4H, churches, etc.) offers summer camps.  Those camping experiences offer students the opportunity to meet new friends, pursue current or new interests, and to escape the boredom of being at home. Clarksville Academy offers a variety of summer camps for all ages.  Check the CA web site for details.

Summer jobs:  Whether it is babysitting, mowing yards, pet sitting, or any other task, a summer job offers teens an opportunity to learn and earn. Jobs teach respect, time management, responsibility, and interpersonal skills while providing a chance for earn their own spending money (a help to both students and parents!).

Sports:  There are sports teams and camps for a variety of sports, both team and individual.  If your student is not interested in an athletic team, perhaps lessons in a life-long individual sport such as golf, tennis, or swimming would spark an interest that could follow him or her throughout life.

Travel:  If a long summer vacation is not on this year’s calendar, consider a day trip.  There are many interesting and fun places within a day’s drive from Clarksville that offer fun, education and experience.  From Civil War battlefields to historic places to museums and amusement parks, there is a destination, and a price, for every family. Find some great day trips here: or

Finding a summer activity for students may require some effort, but the benefits are great. Students must be actively engaged in some activity to help them maintain learning practices for the school year. Different activities may spark an interest that will aid students in school and beyond.

Whatever you choose, enjoy summer’s laid back season.

Begin Your Journey.