Inactive summers can lead to significant learning loss. By the time school starts, kids have lost, on average, 2.6 months of math skills. Those children students who can't access summer programs also fall behind in reading and spelling.
So what can you do to prevent summer learning loss? Here are ten tips:
1. Research summer programs earlier in the year.
2. Pinpoint your child's academic weaknesses and then set aside 15-30 minutes daily to work on these skills using online resources, materials from teacher supply stores and games. Make sure to include math skills practice.
3. Go to the library weekly to check out books relating to their interests. The library offers free classes and events each month that your child can sign up for. In addition, make time for your child to read daily, especially if your child is reading below grade level. Your kids may also enjoy reading a book that has been turned into a movie and then watching the movie, or reading about a specific place or event and then taking a day trip to visit that location.
4. Practice math. Have your kids do three challenging math problems per day, play games where math or reasoning is required, or take advantage of the many apps or websites that offer math games. For ideas, see my blog, Making Learning Fun Again
5. Encourage writing. Have your kids keep an old fashioned or digital journal or scrapbook of summer activities. Have them write postcards from camp, stories about places they may visit over the summer or letters and emails to keep in touch with relatives.
6. Add background knowledge to boost reading skills. If your child is able to read fluently, their ability to comprehend is dependent on their background knowledge. The more experiences they have, the more background knowledge they acquire. Take the extra time to visit museums, local battlefields, explore new places, and do some outside of the classroom hands-on learning.
7. Find programs with substantial reading and math components that include an evaluation of what has been learned. Tie summer learning to what they've learned this school year.
8. Look for small, individualized, high quality summer programs that allow for parent involvement. These programs should have well-trained, experienced instructors who have clear expectations and ample resources.
9. Keep your kids active. Research shows that most kids gain weight during the summer, and health impacts brainpower!
10. Remember that summer programs should be fun, not punitive. Summer school has a bad reputation. However, summer learning is more effective if it is fun, active and engaging.