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This article is a summary of the recent webinar hosted by Lumos Learning’s Marisa Adams (Director of Curriculum) and Jennifer Torres (Director of Marketing).
First, it’s important to understand the implications of “summer slide” – otherwise known as summer learning loss. Research has shown that some students who take standardized tests in the fall could have lost up to 4-6 weeks of learning each school year (when compared with test results from the previous spring). This means that teachers end up dedicating the first month of each new school year for reviewing material before they can move onto any new content and concepts.
The three areas that suffer most from summer learning loss are in the areas of vocabulary/reading, spelling, and math. In Stop! In the Name of Education: Prevent Summer Learning Loss With 7 Simple Steps, we discussed some activities parents could use with children to prevent summer slide. Let’s add to that list with even more ways to keep children engaged and learning – all summer long.
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Talk to child’s teacher, and tell him or her that you’d like to work on your child’s academics over the summer. Most teachers will have many suggestions for you.
In addition to the classroom teacher as a resource, talk to the front office staff and guidance counselors. Reading lists and summer programs that are organized through the school district may be available for your family, and these staff members can usually point you in the right direction.
A quick Google search for “free activities for kids in (insert your town’s name)” will yield results of possible educational experiences and opportunities in your area. Some towns offer “dollar days”, park lunches, and local arts and entertainment.
You may even wish to involve your child in the research process to find fun, affordable memberships and discounts to use at area attractions. For New Jerseyans and Coloradans, check out www.funnewjersey.com and www.colorado.com for ideas.
Of course, don’t forget your local library! In addition to books, you can borrow movies and audiobooks, check out the latest issue of your favorite magazine, and get free Internet access on the library’s computers. Most libraries offer a plethora of other educational choices, too – from book clubs and author visits to movie nights and crafts classes, you’re sure to find something at your local branch that your child will enjoy.
This is an extremely engaging activity – and your child won’t even know he or she is learning! For grocery shopping, ask your child to write the list while you dictate. At the store, your son/daughter can locate the items and keep a cost tally to stay within a specified budget. At the checkout, you can have a contest to see whose estimate of the final bill is most accurate – and then reward the winner!
You may wish to plan a home improvement project or plant a garden: for this, your child can make the list, research the necessary materials, and then plan and execute the project after a visit to your local home improvement store. All of these activities involve those three critical areas of spelling, vocabulary/reading, and math.
This is one of the best places to try new things – by researching new foods, recipes, and discussing healthy food choices – while practicing math skills (such as measuring ingredients, doubling recipes, etc.). Your child may also enjoy reading about new cultures and ethnicities and then trying out some new menu items from those cultures.
TV doesn’t have to be mind numbing … when used appropriately. You can watch sports with your child to review stats and make predictions; watch documentaries; or tune into the History Channel, Discovery, National Geographic, HGTV, and more. Anything that teaches, helps your child discover new interests, and promotes learning new things together is fair game.
As an extension, you may decide to research whether or not the show portrays accurate information. And for those children who really get “into” a certain topic, you can enrich their learning by taking related trips to the museum, doing Internet research, and checking out books from the library that tie into the topic of interest.
Movies can be educational, too, if you debrief with your child afterwards. Schedule a family movie night, and then discuss how realistic the movie was, what the messages were, etc.
For book-based movies (such as Judy Moody, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, etc.), you could read the book together first, and then view the movie version. Comparing and contrasting the two is another terrific educational way to enjoy time together and work on your child’s reasoning skills.
Playing games promotes taking turns, reading and math skills, and strategy development. Scour yard sales for affordable board games like Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno, Battleship, and Qwirkle.
Don’t forget about non-board games, like those found on the Wii, Nintendo, Xbox, and other gaming consoles. You’ll still want to choose wisely and limit your child’s screen time, but these electronic versions of popular (and new) games mirror the way kids think … while focusing on reading and math skills. For more ideas, Google “education apps” for suggestions.
Of course, nothing beats reading for maintaining skills. When you can connect your child with a book that is of interest to him or her, it can be fun for your child, build confidence, and improve fluency.
To help your child find a book that’s “just right”, use the five-finger rule: choose a page from a possible book and have your child read that page. Every time he or she encounters an unknown word, put up a finger. If your child exceeds five fingers (that is, five unknown words), that book is probably too challenging and he or she may wish to pass on it.
For reluctant readers, consider non-book reading options, like:magazines (such as Ranger Rick, American Girl, Discovery Kids, and Sports Illustrated for Kids), cereal boxes, billboards, current events, closed captioning, and karaoke. If you keep your eyes open, you’ll find there are many natural reading opportunities that surround us every day.
Whatever you do, remember to keep it fun. Summer is a time for rest and rejuvenation, and learning doesn’t always have to be scheduled. In fact, some of the most educational experiences are unplanned.
For more ideas, join us for Lumos Learning’s upcoming series, Beat the Summer Brain Drain! The dates and topics are as follows:
Visit www.lumoslearning.com/parents/summer-program for more information.