The Academic “Offseason”: Give Centers A Try

Have you ever heard the term “offseason”? It’s usually a reference to athletics: the part of the year where your sport isn’t in session. You don’t HAVE to practice, but when the new season begins, it’ll be obvious who put in the work during the offseason. As the school year came to a close, it occurred to me that summer is our kids’ academic offseason. That isn’t to say school should be a competition or that a kid is falling behind if they’re spending more time learning life lessons than reading, writing, and arithmetic.

academic offseason

Common sense is equally as valuable, if not far more, than book smarts. But ideally our kids would have both, right? Enter: our off season training plan.

I stay at home with my kids so what works for me may not work for another. But whether you’re working full time, part time, or staying home, I’m assuming we all share the experience of figuring out how to entertain our kids on nights and weekends.

We’re a month into summer and I stumbled onto a strategy that’s been pretty effective thus far. I’m modeling the independent learning time our kids have at school each day.

Your school might call it stations, free time, or activity hubs; our school calls it “centers”.

I’ve begun setting up centers around our big kitchen table most afternoons. Right now we have:

-Puzzle Center
-Art Center
-Workbook Center
-Memory Verse Center
-Magnet/Building Center
-Imaginative Play Center (our is a tabletop Bluey playhouse where the kids reenact episodes of Bluey they’ve watched before)

I don’t ever force it. The kids don’t see it as a chore. I would guess we do it 4 times a week Monday-Saturday.

Most of the time, they ask for centers!

I’ve enjoyed this time immensely with my children. My kids are 6, 4, and 2 years old and we do centers when the 2 year old is napping.

Before we started, my 4 year old could barely write his name.

With individual attention, he’s made drastic improvements. Dedicating this small amount of time during the week to work on their struggle areas has been incredibly beneficial. My 6 year old has transitioned from sounding out words to reading full beginner books on her own in a very short amount of time.

I’m including links to some workbooks, colors, and other tools I’ve been using. Overall, I spent a little over $30 towards this pseudo school. (We already had puzzles, coloring books, and magnet tiles.)

For some of you, that might be a drop in the bucket. For others, that might be a couple days worth of groceries. Wherever you land, I urge you to see this as an investment that will pay dividends tenfold.

The knowledge added to their little creative spongey minds will be worth every penny.

I encourage every mom (and dad) out there to give “academic offseason training” a try. When they go back to school in the fall, I’m sure their teachers will be happy you did!

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