Three Skills You Can Help Your Kid Improve on This Summer

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Most summers, some kids tend to vegetate while their parents pretty much allow them to run wild and free. While there’s nothing essentially wrong with that–some might beg to disagree even with that flippant statement–I would like my kids’ summers to count. A few days ago, I wrote about three things Christian dads can do with their kids this summer. In this blog entry, I’ve identified the following skills that I personally am helping my 11-year-old son improve this summer.

1. Improve his typing skills. In this digital age, keyboard mastery can make a huge difference. As a child, I remember playing a desktop game featuring a race car that sped up as I typed words into the text field. I credit that game for helping me improve my typing skills, and while I no longer have that game, there is an abundance of games that kids can play. I recommend Fun to Type, which has a variety of games that can help improve the child’s skills over time.

2. Improve his handwriting skills. No offense to him, but my son’s handwriting is atrocious. (Case in point: last night’s homework, he couldn’t read what he wrote himself.) I tend to subscribe to the “practicing with pegs makes perfect” model of education, so I’m requiring my son to do handwriting exercises with quality pegs during weekdays, and to answer the questions to No.3 in cursive, so he practices often.

3. Build vocabulary, critical thinking, and composition skills. I want to encourage Nathan to think critically, learn how to write paragraphs well, and improve his vocabulary. Towards this, I’m making him read a short story or essay daily, and posing some questions to him that he has to answer. These questions are designed to help him think critically about the material and glean the main points behind the text. At the same time, I’m also having him select at least five words from the text that he may not understand, and look up the meanings in the online dictionary (or occasionally, getting them from context in the material).

I understand that it feels like homework, but all the materials put together don’t take up more than an hour of his day. I believe, though, that these will help him improve his performance in the coming school year, so that’s why I’m doing them.

I’m also taking active steps towards encouraging his own likes, so this summer, we’ve gone swimming and camping–which, if you know me, I just don’t do–and we’re also doing some sports like badminton. I want my kids to move around this summer rather than just stay in their bedrooms playing video games, so that’s why I’m actively making moves to participate in these activities.

What about you? Which skills of your kids are you working to improve, and what steps are you taking towards making it happen? :)