It’s hard to believe, but school is right around the corner. Will your children return ready to learn?
According to the National Summer Learning Association, kids can lose up to two months of learning over the summer break, and the effects can be felt when school starts. The good news is that with just a little thought, you can help them become school-ready with activities that feel so much like play, they won’t even know you are sneaking a little education into their time off.
Here are a few tips that I have successfully implemented with my five children:
• Literacy: Kids engage with words every moment of the day. They should read cereal boxes, menus, recipes and signs as they go about their summer activities. Reading aloud to kids before bed helps their listening skills. Also, supporting their solitary time with books helps improve reading fluency and enjoyment. Make trips to the library a regular event, and use the five-finger rule to help them chose a book: If a child mispronounces or stumbles over five or more words on a page, it is not an appropriate level for the child.
Start a family blog or scrapbook of summer activities to get the kids writing. In addition, keep a personal journal in the car or a backpack as you go about your day, which can encourage even the most reluctant writers to illustrate and/or write about their experiences.
• Family field trips: Whether it is going to a local soccer game, a museum or a park, kids learn when they are engaged. Parents can discuss strategy at the game and talk about their kids’ favorite parts of museum exhibits. A stroll to the park is an opportunity to talk about the neighborhood and its history, using language and analytical skills.
• Explore the outdoors: If you have a garden, ask the kids to help with the harvest. Not only will kids learn where flowers and food come from, but they’ll be following your directions.
Time with nature is great for children, so go camping, or even pitch a tent in the backyard. Explore the trees, critters and soil on local trails and in parks to enhance their appreciation of our planet. Building tree forts and fairy houses in the woods is not only fun, but it helps children practice many important skills by using their amazing imagination.
• In the kitchen: Cooking allows children to practice math, literacy and science skills. Have them read recipes, measure ingredients, watch the stove timer and create portions. This is an easy and non-intimidating way to reinforce math and reading skills. Here is a great link with more fabulous ideas: https://bit.ly/1ePW8NS.
• Games: Flash-card-style games, such as math war and Concentration, help with computation and memory skills. Plan a regular board-game night to enhance strategy and problem-solving skills. A daily craft activity promotes dexterity and language skills. Kids who like comics can create their own, with original text and pictures.
The most important thing to remember when considering summer activities for your child is to look for learning opportunities that fit your child’s preferences and interests. Just an hour’s worth of these activities and events daily can help students close learning gaps and begin the new school year at an advantage!
Jill DAVIS is director of General Studies and 2nd grade General Studies lead teacher at the Jewish Community Day School of Rhode Island, in Providence.