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Monfredo: More Ideas on How to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Saturday, July 14, 2018

 

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 and I sincerely hope that all adults do what you can to assist the children in 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. Please review the suggestions that were in my two columns on what to do in reading and math. Remember, summer vacation is great as a break from school, but it doesn’t have to be a break from learning.

Here are more facts for you to consider about learning and safety during the summer from the researchers:

  • 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 experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers due mainly because middle-class parents have the means to engage their children in trips to a number of learning institutes and museums.
  • 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. Research shows that at least 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 12 care for themselves over the summer months (unsupervised.)

 

In addition, the academic delay that occurs over the summer is one of the greatest problems confronting teachers each fall. In fact, when your children return to school, they may have experienced such learning loss during the summer, that they will need to spend several weeks catching up to where they once were academically.

All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.  Research spanning decades 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).

On the positive side, as a former principal, I know that families have a major influence on the children’s achievement in school and throughout life. Many studies found that students with involved parents, no matter what their income or background, were more likely to succeed in school if they encourage and support learning at home.

Therefore, let’s look at what can be done. In addition, the suggestions on summer learning in the last two columns, here are a few more ideas for parents to consider. These suggestions, this time, come from 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 20 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.   Remember to be creative during the summer learning process and most importantly, have fun with learning.  As mentioned in my last column be sure to check out the websites for other ideas, too.  Good luck and have fun with learning and most important be consistent with a plan each and every day.

 

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