Summer has nearly arrived, and I can’t help but wonder…are parents excited to have their little cubs around the den more, or are they mourning the death of any free time / peace and quiet they enjoyed throughout the school year? And how do parents that have chosen to homeschoool feel about the summertime?
Even though summer sentiments may vary, parents of any child with any type of educational background likely recognize that summer is a time when learning can truly be combined with fun. Unfortunately, children often find themselves struggling to remember skills they learned before the summer break once they get back to school. Reading, spelling, and math are the top areas in which children lose skills. Summer is responsible for more than half of all learning discrepancies among students.
This short video breaks down the ways in which summer break contributes to the achievement gap among students – especially between students from low-income and middle-income families:
Parents have a lot of opportunities to help their children maintain their skills throughout the summer, and a lot of these opportunities also provide great family-bonding time. Here a few ways parents can keep kids engaged in learning during the summer:
- Reward for Reading. You could use a reward system based off of the number of pages that your kids read throughout the summer. Small prizes could be awarded weekly, medium prizes monthly, and a grand prize could be awarded at the end of the summer to keep kids reading. See how this mom came up with an ingenious reading program “by using the competitive spirit among siblings.”
- Plan for the Curriculum. Make an appointment to visit your child’s school and meet with the teachers who will be teaching your child next year. This way, you can find out what students will be learning when they come back in the fall (Greek mythology or astronomy) and then help your children get ahead by reading books on upcoming learning topics or by visiting museums and planetariums.
- Library Access. Here’s a simple one – get your children library cards so that they have free access to a multitude of books. Local libraries usually offer reading lists and sponsor reading contests as well.
- Natural Learning. Take learning outside! Going on a hike provides plenty of opportunities for fun and learning. Families would have fun taking pictures of flowers and other wildlife and then going home to discover three interesting facts about each organism they photographed.
- Go to the Zoo. The zoo is a wonderfully-fun place that is already geared towards learning for children. Allow your children to identify the animals instead of pointing them out.
- Cook Up Some Ideas. Make it a goal to cook with the kids a couple times a week (or more). Offer your child a little freedom and let them choose the recipes -- this will get them excited. Following a recipe is good practice for reading and comprehension, as well as for learning how to follow directions accurately. Kids could practice their writing and spelling skills by making a grocery list. Taking measurements could easily be turned into math practice, plus, it's great for bonding!
- Bargain Hunting. Thrift stores and yard sales always seem to be exciting for children, and you can make hunting for cheap books an adventure!
- Math and Reading Worksheets. Especially for the days when you just don’t have the time you need, free printable math sheets and learning games are a great way to help sharpen and maintain math skills.
- Put the "earn" in Learn. Consider implementing a small allowance for your child. Offer a certain amount of money for tasks performed and then have your child add up what their total earnings are.
- Everyday, Read Together. This one is simple and yet so important – read with your children daily. Encouraging kids to read autonomously and silently is important, but have your children read aloud to you as well. You should even read to your children so that the kids get the chance to hear the language. Even 15 minutes will make a world of difference.
- Create Simple Opportunities to Learn Something New. An example of a great way to build vocabulary would be to display a "word of the day" on the fridge.
- Let them Lead. Let the children be the leader of learning during the summer since they don't really get that control during the school year. You should set up the activities and then encourage your child to lead the way while you act as a gentle guide to nurture the knowledge. For more ideas on adventures in learning for families, check out Kids Off the Couch.
If you're interested in learning more about how Reading Horizons can help your child become a better, more-fluent reader, check out our free Online Workshop trial. You'll learn all about the program features and methodology.
"...Our daughter's attitude towards reading and confidence have changed dramatically! She used to dread having to read, and we dreaded making her. Now she reads for FUN..." Continue reading >
-Beth Gundrum from Hillard, Ohio