For school-age children, summer can be a joyous time of the year. Carefree hours of fun swimming, playing outside, and doing anything but school work. But, did you know that many school kids can lose valuable amounts of knowledge over the summer months? Children may return to school in September having lost some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. This mamas, is referred to as the summer slide.
Teachers report having to spend up to a month reteaching information taught during the previous school year. Of course, this creates a snowball effect since the curriculum meant for September onwards gets pushed back. So how can we prevent this? Here are some simple things to do that will keep your childrens’ brains engaged over the summer (without them realizing they are still learning!).
When there’s so much to do in the summer time, it may be difficult to get your child to want to sit down with a good book. Our partners at KinderCare Learning Centers know that learning doesn’t stop when school let’s out for the summer! One tip from the experts is to find anything and everything for your kids to read, and be sure to read together. Take a chapter book and take turns reading the chapters out loud. What about finding a new series that you can dive into over the summer together? It gets the kids reading, listening, talking about the book and gives you a great time to bond. Let them read poems, story books, or even the placards in front of museum displays.
Many schools offer summer reading lists, and depending on your child’s age and school district, you may even have mandatory summer reading assignments. If that is the case, have your child start early, right at the end of June, while their brain is still in “school mode.” If your child is resistant you may want to make reading a prerequisite for other activities. For example, in my home for each time period spent reading (time depends on the child’s age and stamina) my child can earn some time on a computer, in the pool, or watching TV.
There are many local establishments that offer fun reading programs over the summer too. These may help motivate your child to read. Check out your local library to see if they have a program for your family. Barnes and Noble also offers a summer program where kids can earn free books! If you can’t find a program for you, why not take a trip to the library or the bookstore on your own? Letting your child pick their own book may encourage them to read!
Math Summer Fun
Try to make math fun for your little ones over the summer. Play math games together like addition, multiplication or subtraction War (rules are the same as the classic card game, but you turn two cards over at a time and either add, subtract or multiply them together). Are games not your thing? Cook with your kid! The measurement of ingredients is great for the math mind! Take it a step further by having them plan and budget for the meal.
KinderCare has some great ideas for making math fun over the summer too! They suggest having your children help make a shopping list and add the prices found on the flier or in store. Math can also be a part of outdoor play. Children of all ages can go on hunts outdoors and count the numbers of trees in the neighborhood, or count the number of different birds they saw on a nature hike etc. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you don’t let math be forgotten over the summer.
Get Out Of Town
One of the best ways to engage your child is to spend time with them. Plan a vacation or even a Westchester “stay-cation.” You will be surprised with how many authentic learning opportunities you can come across on vacation. Reading signs on historical buildings will build knowledge and reading comprehension. Lining yourself up against a sign saying, “You must be this tall to ride,” offers an opportunity for a measuring lesson. That same roller coaster ride can be an opportunity to talk physics. Don’t forget, open ended conversation where both participants are actively engaged is a great way to boost writing and reading ability because it helps to get your little one to be a critical thinker.
Why not expose your child to something new, a trip to an art or history museum perhaps? Try spending the day at a farm or zoo and talk about the environment or a food chain. If your child likes history, Westchester County is absolutely a great place to be! There are an abundance of museums and historical sites to take in. Try the John Jay Mansion and Heritage Center in Rye, or Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow. If you can’t take a vacation, what about taking a class with your child? Take a music class or a one-day class on painting. Every opportunity to do something new is a hidden opportunity to learn.
While your at it, have your child keep a journal and write or draw about all the new experiences they have over the summer. Don’t stress the grammar and perfect composition, just help them build a love for the written word. If they are too young to write, drawing is a wonderful first step. Have them dictate a sentence about what they drew and you can write it for them!
If work prevents you from getting away or spending summer days with the kids, there are other great solutions on hand. Why not enroll your child in a summer program? Programs such as KinderCare can allow your child to grow academically, socially and emotionally in a safe and fun environment. For 50 years, KinderCare teachers have created encouraging environments where kids can learn, grow, and build confidence for life. KinderCare Learning Centers is opening a brand new learning center in the Upper West Side of Manhattan this fall! Visit the Columbus KinderCare on 808 Columbus Avenue or contact 833-90-LEARN to schedule a tour and meet the Center Director.
The Bottom Line
Everyone wants their kid to achieve and be successful. We all want what is best for our little ones. If that means pulling them out of the pool for a little academics, so be it! Avoid the summer slide, and you may just find that you and your child had fun in the process!