10 new skills to learn over the summer


After a long year of learning at school, your child deserves a lovely break over the summer and a chance to rest and play so they can go into the next year feeling refreshed.

Still, it’s always worth putting the time off to good use and considering new skills to learn over the summer.

So while ensuring that your child gets a chance to enjoy their summer break, why not think about new things to learn together over the summer?


Is it important to learn new skills over the summer?

The most important thing for your child over the summer is ensuring they’re getting the rest they need so that when they go back to school they have the energy to keep learning. But with the time off, it’s worth making the most of the summer holidays

When children aren’t in the classroom over the summer they can experience a loss in learning, with maths learning loss being quite common. This can cause a bit of a block in their learning when they go back to school.

On average, children can lose approximately 2 months worth of reading skill and 3 months of maths skill if they don’t keep practising over the summer break, according to Education Policy Institute research

So by encouraging your child to learn new skills over the summer, you could actually be ensuring they retain more of their learning from the last year. That ways they go back to school ready to learn even more, with more confidence and the right attitude to keep on learning. 


How to learn new skills over the summer? 

Some children love learning new things, even over the summer holidays, and so teaching them new skills is easy enough. Other children can be a little more reluctant, and would rather spend the summer break relaxing and playing. For those children, it’s entirely possible to learn through having fun and playing! 

So, the best way to encourage learning new skills over the summer is to lean into your child’s desire to play. Think about ways you can make learning fun and exciting for them. Be sure to make good use of our summer resources and activity ideas to give you a good starting point for teaching them new skills over the summer.  


New things to learn this summer

So we’ve established that it’s good to learn new skills over the summer. It helps your child keep some of the knowledge they’ve learned in the school year by putting some of it to practice, keeps their brains engaged and can be a great boredom buster on quiet or rainy days. 

So what skills are best to work on? It’s good to work with your child’s interests to start, something that they’ll definitely find enjoyable and easy to get to grips with. Why not ask them to make a list of skills they’re interested in learning? Or give them a list and see if anything speaks to them. 

Once they’ve started to work on the skills they’re most eager to learn, you can start working together on skills they might not have been as interested in at first. Once they’re in a learning mindset, they might be more interested in those skills. 

If you want a good starting point, here are our ten suggested things to learn this summer… 

1 – Work on speed reading

Speed reading is a great skill for anyone to have, and we could all do with working on our ability to speed read. 

So what is speed reading? Essentially, speed reading is exactly what it sounds like, reading something quickly. The trick is to read something fast but not lose any of the information in the text you’re reading. That’s the part that needs to be practised, and it’s something children can easily do with regular summer reading

You could also try setting speed reading drills for children. Choose an easy-to-read material and set aside 15 minutes a day for your child to read through, with the goal of reading more than one word at a time.

Not all children will pick up speed reading, and some may take longer than others to get it – that’s okay! It’s a good skill to keep practising as it still helps with their overall literacy skills. 


2 – Learn a new musical instrument

Music can be a huge benefit to your child in a lot of ways that might surprise you. For example, did you know that learning music can actually help with maths? By learning to follow patterns, count beats and even learn the fractions involved with music, your child could experience considerably less maths learning loss by learning music. 

Learning music can have a number of other benefits for your child, including: 

  • Better coordination and motor skills
  • Improved memory from learning notes and how to play them
  • Better attention and concentration
  • Even improved language skills – learning music, if you want to get scientific, helps develop the left side of the brain which is responsible for language and reasoning.

So let’s see if you can turn a fun new skill to learn over summer into a lifelong love of music. Listen to and sing to music together, maybe look at getting them a cheap musical instrument for children (ukuleles will never go out of fashion!) and work on learning together.


3 – Languages

While it’s not a new skill your child will be able to learn entirely over summer, it might be a good idea to get started on learning a language. Chances are your child has already started learning other languages in school, so they could use some of their summer break to work on that. 

Learning a language isn’t known as something that’s particularly easy to do, but the earlier you start the easier it can be. So getting a head start at learning this new skill could lead to your child someday being fluent in a second language! 

Like with learning music, language learning will develop their brains in a way that improves problem-solving, critical thinking and concentration. It can also be a great way to inspire curiosity and develop cultural empathy, which could lead to them being a much more tolerant person in their life.

There are plenty of language learning apps out there like Duolingo that can make learning language fun and engaging for your child. So why not see if that can help keep them engaged?


4 – Areas of difficulty in maths 

The idea of getting your child to practice maths over the summer might seem impossible, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you think. There are a lots of ways you can make maths more enjoyable. 

You can teach maths to children through cooking, storytelling or even arts and crafts. There are a lot of ways to make maths fun for children, even over the summer break. 


5 – Write and rewrite

Developing a passion for writing is a fantastic new skill to learn over the summer, as it not only fuels creativity but helps children keep practising their spelling and grammar. So it’s good to look for ways to inspire children to get into creative writing this summer

One fun way to encourage children to get creative writing is to take one of their favourite stories and ask them to rewrite the ending their way. You could even get them to write beyond the ending, see where your children would take their beloved characters next. 

Writing and rewriting is a fun exercise to keep children’s brains engaged over summer, without making them feel like they’re in class. 


6 – Self-care and mindfulness

On to a slightly more abstract but equally important new skill to learn over summer – self-care! As adults most of us think of self-care as the occasional indulgence that makes us feel good; a nice long bath, a quiet night in with a favourite film or a whole bar of chocolate (just this one time). 

But, self-care is actually knowing how to actually look after your physical and mental wellbeing, and it’s important to teach children about that early on. That means learning to balance their work and free time, how much sleep they should be getting, how much exercise they should be doing and when to ask for help. 

With all the time away from school, your child’s routine changes over summer, so it’s a good time to teach them about wellbeing – how to set their own schedules and keep their bodies and their brains happy and healthy, and know when to come to you for help. 


7 – Cooking and cleaning

Speaking of teaching your children how to look after themselves, cooking and cleaning are invaluable new skills to learn. You want to be sure your child is able to eat healthily and make informed choices on their food, not to mention being able to clean up after themselves when they make food (that’s why it’s good to teach cooking and cleaning together!). 

Cooking can also be a great source of accidental learning this summer. By reading and following recipes and making measurements, your child is working on both their literacy and their maths, alongside developing a new skill that’ll be a lifelong benefit. 

Try getting your child involved in your daily cooking routines, even for simple meals. 


8 – Sewing and other crafts

Sewing isn’t often talked about as an important skill for children to learn, but it can actually prove to be a vital new skill to learn when it comes to environmentally conscious fashion and money saving. After all, being able to repair clothes is a lot cheaper than buying new ones, and much better for the environment. 

Working on things like sewing or other crafts with your children is a fun way to keep their brains engaged, and can be a good way to improve their confidence and cognitive abilities. Sewing helps develop fine motor skills as children practise and get better at it, and it’s a fantastic hobby to keep them occupied without putting them in front of a television screen or tablet. 

So be sure to break out rainy day crafts from time to time over summer, even if it’s not a rainy day and you just want to keep them occupied. 


9 – First aid

This can be a really important new skill to learn, especially over the summer when children are getting outside more and the potential for injuries can increase. 

Obviously as a parent or carer you want to be there for your children whenever they need you, but it’s good to teach them how to do basic first aid for injuries. Simple things like cleaning up cuts and scrapes, and putting on plasters are good places to start. 

While first aid might not be the most fun new skill to learn over the summer, it’s definitely an important one. It could even be worth encouraging your child’s school to get involved with St John’s Ambulance to ensure they’re taught proper first aid in school. 


10 – Wildlife spotting

It’s never a bad idea to get your child interested in the natural world around them, and caring about the environment. One way to do that is to get them interested in wildlife spotting. 

You can start simple with things like our nature wordsearch, where they can improve their literacy and then go out and find those words in nature. Then you can look at getting them wildlife books, or finding out about what sort of wildlife they can find in your area and going out on little adventures to track those things down. 

If you really want to get children invested in wildlife try some fun activities like finding out if you have hedgehogs nearby with footprint tracking tunnels. You could also try gardening that benefits local wildlife, try growing wildflowers either in your garden or in a window grow box. These can all be teaching moments about the local wildlife, and how important it is to look after them. 


Learn to take breaks this summer

While you as a parent or carer want to see your child doing their best and learning new skills over the summer, just keep in mind that it’s okay to take a break. You can plan out the summer to the tiniest detail for your child, but not every day is going to go to plan and sometimes it’s fine to just do nothing. 

So, learn to look after your wellbeing this summer by having a few days of just doing nothing. Try giving your child some simple mindfulness activities to do from time to time. It keeps them busy, keeps their brains engaged and allows you all to just have a break. 

So remember, while it’s good to learn new skills over the summer, it’s important to take breaks. 


New skills to learn over the summer: tuition?

Learning skills over the summer can be a great way to keep your children’s brains engaged over the break, but tuition could be the extra helping hand they need. If they’ve been struggling in their maths or English, or perhaps they want an extra helping hand preparing for their 11 Plus exams, why not consider tuition? 

Our expert tutors will get to know the way your child learns, so they can work with them to learn in the most productive way for them. Your children can learn online from the comfort of their own home, or you can use one of our tuition centres. 

Find out if tuition could help your child do their best when they go back to school. 

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