Ah, summer. That lovely respite when the kiddos get a break from all of that learning. Or, maybe just in-classroom learning. Cuz really, kids are continually learning--even when they're playing. Not to mention, that mid-August start of school date will be here in two shakes of a lamb's tail. And...

The National Summer Learning Association reports that many kids "lose two months of math skills and many lose additional reading skills each summer."

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Summer provides many opportunities to encourage your kids to keep learning in different scenarios. Whether you're a homeschooling pro or you are wondering how to fill up your kid's summer, here's a great way to help them learn while having a blast at the same time.

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One of the most important things you can ever do for your child is to help them build a reading routine. Not only will this help counteract their "learning loss," but this habit will serve them both in their school life, but also in their professional and even personal lives--forever.

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Even just setting aside twenty minutes a day in a favorite spot to read books they love can make a huge difference. Take them to Barnes & Noble in Tyler, Books-a-Million in Longview, or even let them wander about Kilgore Books & Comics. Let them choose something in which they can get lost--it's excellent for their imaginations.

If they don't read yet, then spend time reading to them. My mom did this for me and I'm quite certain it's one of the most important things she ever did for me.

Or take them to one of our East Texas public libraries. When I was a kid, reading books was an escape and an adventure. It was freely encouraged. One of my favorite things ordering books at school during those book fairs--remember those? :)

Letting kids explore at a bookstore or at a library will help them be more engaged and reading will seem fun to them, rather than an assigned drudgery. Welty says research done by the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows 89% of kids agree.

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Just like with any other skill in life, in order to maintain it, we must practice. Nowadays, you can workbooks practicing learned skills in a workbook. Good ones are created to be engaging and even fun, while being educational. You can find them on a range of subjects. Even as little as 10 minutes a day can be effective. You can find these at most bookstores nowadays, too.

Find ways to bring learning to life! Kids, and people generally, are more likely to enjoy education and learning if they can see why it matters in their actual life. So, of course, teach them the basics in a variety of subjects.

But then switch gears and do things like baking or cooking, gardening, even household chores can become a fun experience that teaches real life skills. I'd also add creative writing or music to the list.

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Speaking of cooking, did you know that there are several Young Chef's Academies in the Dallas area? They're specifically designed for little people. That would make for a fun summer road trip.

What about music lessons? Music is amazing for a child's developing brain. And there are various places in East Texas to get professional lessons for your kid. Like the Charlotte Floyd Music Studio in Tyler, or Mundt Music in Longview.

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Other great ways to keep your kids learning this summer? Plan a camping trip at one the Tyler State Park or set up a scavenger hunt in your own backyard and let them hunt for a prize at the end--maybe ice cream from Andy's Frozen Custard? Oooh, I know that would motivate me.

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How are you planning to keep your kids engaged in their education over the summer? How about you? When's the last time you learned something new?

KEEP READING: 50 activities to keep kids busy this summer