The dream of every American school child is quickly approaching: summer vacation. Freedom, fun and relaxation is on the horizon, and it is a well-deserved break! Unfortunately, along with that freedom comes the risk of summer learning loss. Academic regression is a real problem, without school to attend many students will start to drastically reverse the academic gains they have made during the school year. This shows up in great losses in math and reading achievements over the summer months. This can have a snowball effect causing not only gaps in achievement, but ultimately trouble finding full time employment, and decreased college and career success.
The trick for eliminating this loss is to keep your child’s brain engaged over the summer. Parents and guardians can assist children in minimizing regression this summer by investing a small amount of time into learning activities But, what can you encourage your child to do instead of playing video games? What activities will help to reduce academic loss?
The important thing to remember when considering summer activities for your child is to look for learning opportunities that fit your child’s individual preferences and interests. Setting aside just a Half an hour to an hour daily can help students close increasing learning gaps and begin the new school year at an advantage. According to Edutopia.com, “Summer is an ideal time for students of all ages to strengthen their academic skills while still having plenty of time left over for summer activities.”
Use the following ideas to keep your child’s brain engaged and their academic skills growing this summer:
Plan educational trips: Summer fun can still be had while building up the brain. Consider incorporating a family outing to places like local historic sites, science centers or museums. Most major cities have museums designed just for children to enjoy. Local art museums often have elaborate children’s programs designed to capture your child’s attention and imagination. If you’re planning a trip you could check out books about your destination from your local library first and use the plane or car ride as an opportunity to research your trip before you arrive. The library is also a great resource for great summer learning opportunities as well. Often arts and crafts programs or reading initiatives will get kids brains moving!
Read together: By incorporating reading into your daily and weekly routine you will easily be battling any reading loss over the summer. Read together as a family, by setting aside a certain time every day where every member of your family will be reading. Or choose a book to read together, taking turns reading paragraphs. Check out the summer reading programs offered by your local library or choose a series to read together as a family. Challenge each other to a book reading contest or make a chart to mark off how many books of a series you can get through by the end of vacation.
Consider a summer camp: The Hechinger report concludes that “Educators believe one of the best ways to keep students engaged during the summer months is in programs that mix fun with academic enrichment.” Research summer camp programs in your area to find one that matches the interest of your child. City Parks and Rec departments often have affordable day-camp options, as do local zoos and museums. If your budget allows, you can look into specialized sleep away camps as well.
Keep up on math skills: For younger children you can incorporate math problems into everyday activities. For instance, counting apples at the grocery store or allowing your child to count money and pay the cashier. For older students it can be beneficial to practice math facts or compute math problems daily. Consider making this task seem more fun by using sidewalk chalk to calculate problems.
Write often. Start a family summer journal to document all the fun you’re having and take turns writing entries. Think about writing family stories or detailing your family tree together. Aything you can come up with to improve your child’s writing skills and give them an imaginative activity to do with you.
Over the summer, families who participate in the above activities can see improvement in academic skills instead of a summer decline. By making summer learning both fun and challenging students will be able to overcome the summer slump and be prepared to start the new school year successfully. Feel free to contact us at The Tenney School to see how we can help you plan your child’s successful summer in the Houston area.