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John Monfredo: 10 Ways To Help Your Child Stay Smart This Summer

Saturday, July 13, 2013

 

Every kid looks forward to summer vacation, but in the absence of summer learning they could be at an advantage in September.

If you have read the last two issues that I wrote you know how passionate I feel about summer learning. Thus, here is my final word on summer learning. Again, as a reminder…research clearly states that students who read over the summer start school in the fall ready to learn. The same applies to math loss as well. Here are more facts for you to consider:

  • All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
  • On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.
  • Low-income children and youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers.
  • Students may not have the same structured meal schedule and sometimes access to nutritious meals during the summer.
  • Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and youth.

 

Important Facts

  • Only approximately 10 percent of students nationwide participate in summer school or attend schools with non-traditional calendars.
  • A majority of students (56 percent) want to be involved in a summer program that “helps kids keep up with schoolwork or prepare for the next grade”.
  • Research shows that teachers typically spend between 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
  • At least 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 12 care for themselves over the summer months (unsupervised).

 

All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al. 2004).

Therefore, let’s look at what can be done.  Here are a few more ideas for parents to consider as suggested by the  National Association of School Principals:

Devise a plan.

Tell your child that reading and learning  activities will be an important part of their summer. Assure them that they’ll still have lots of time for play.

Transform everyday activities into learning opportunities.

Children can count change, read directions for a trip, write a shopping list, or calculate a recipe’s measurements.

Gather activity books.

Give children their own activity book with crossword puzzles or number games customized for their specific age group. Set a “due date” to keep them on track, but let them work at their own pace.

Initiate a writing project.

Have your child keep a summer journal, write letters to family members or friends, or craft a play to perform with siblings or neighbors. Start a family cookbook with your favorite recipes, instructions, and shopping lists.

Strategize screen time.

Educational computer games or apps can engage students’ minds, but make sure your child is spending enough time away from the screen.

 No electric devices

Assign a daily block of time for family members to turn off phones, computers, and the TV, and instead play a board game or read together.

Designate daily reading blocks

Set aside at least 15 minutes a day for your entire family to read. (That means parents, too!) Organize a summer read-a-thon with goals for each family member, or sign your child up for your library’s summer book

Go global.

Set aside several nights during the summer to have an international evening. Together, cook a meal with recipes from a different nation. Learn basic words in that country language. Find the country on a map, and together examine a book or article with information on what life is like there.

Sneak learning into family trips.

If your family is able to take a vacation during the summer, include stops at zoos, children’s museums, or historic sites. Have your child help you plot out the journey using maps and keep a journal along the way. Older children can tally up miles, keep track of expenses, or compute gas mileage.

Don’t forget Math.

Finally, try to motivate your child to complete 5 to 10 math problems (from a grade-appropriate workbook) a few times a week, ask him/her mental math problems as one drives in the car and play math problem games  ( or card games) as the situation arises. Hopefully, the work will be fun (keep it low-level and simple), and the child will do it for enjoyment. 

Learning alone and informally, or via a structured group for either part of the day or part of the summer will help to prevent summer learning loss and help your child stay sharp for school next year.  However, let’s also remember that summer is also for relaxing, taking some time off, and just being a child, too. What we need to do is to balance fun with learning!  Remember there are many local options available…public schools, Worcester Public Library, Social agencies such as the YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girl Scouts, and a host of other groups that are engaged in summer learning activities. Also, check out the number of websites that were given out last week. Good luck and make it a fun-filled learning summer.

 

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