As a teacher, I understand that children who do not read over the summer lose two months of taught reading skills. For example, if a student left my classroom on a reading level 4 at the end of the year but read nothing over the summer, they are most likely to test at a reading level 3 when they return to school. This can put children behind which is why we are excited to share with you 7 simple ways to keep your child learning this summer.
As a parent, I understand that I am my child’s first and most important teacher. I appreciate my kids’ amazing teachers but at the end of the day, they are my children and their life success depends on the support my husband and I provide them. They will have dozens of teachers throughout their education career but as parents, we are their constant and it’s important that we support them.
Let me first say that I need one of those shirts that say World’s Okayest Mom because that is exactly what I am. I do not always have it together. There are days when I forget to ask about homework or I am too tired to cook dinner so we order pizza. That is absolutely okay. Knowing my own, errr, imperfections, I know that when it comes to summer learning, I must be purposeful with a plan to support my kids or it won’t happen.
First, we have a ginormous calendar in our kitchen hall. I think it is 3’x4’ because it’s no easy task keeping our family of five rolling. I call it controlled chaos. Ha. Before school dismisses for summer, I always found out when the library at school was open for summer hours and if the local library has scheduled events. I add all of those dates to the calendar. When my kids were younger, they loved going to special events at the library. Even though all three of my kids are dyslexic and have reading disabilities, they love to read so supporting that is important.
Check out local attractions. When my kids were younger, we had season passes to the zoo (which we still love to go to) and the Mayborn Museum in Waco. I would find out if they had special learning opportunities and add those dates to our calendar. Anything that got us out of the house was a win in my book! Regular physical activities lead to increased concentration so keep those kids moving.
Camps and summer programs were also wonderful ways to keep my kids active. Our local community college offers all kinds of classes. Luckily our local school also provided fun opportunities for kids to learn about robotics, computers, etc. so definitely ask your school if they provide additional support over the summer. Each summer my kids went to church camp. This summer we are doing a local mission trip in Austin, TX and we are super excited about that. Each morning we will get our assignment for the day which could include feeding homeless, teaching VBS or even painting a house. Austin is about an hour and a half from where we live so it’s not a long haul but we are excited to spend a week there serving others.
Road trips are a fun way to add learning experiences to your summer. Visiting various places helps children understand the world around them. Make sure to have discussions about things you see and places you go. Those conversations are where most of the learning takes place. I loved the questions my kids would ask. They were often farfetched but they lead to an entertaining conversation. We also loved playing car games such as the Alphabet Game where we would look for letters in signs and license plates in alphabetical order. We would also play Hey Cow when the kids were younger. When driving in the country, we would yell out the window Hey Cow and count how many cows turned their heads to look at us. So silly but they loved it.
READ. I cannot express enough how important it is for children to read over the summer. If your child cannot read yet, then read to them. Foster a love for books and reading at home. Let them see you read too. Reading is not a punishment but instead a portal to a new world with amazing opportunities to learn.
Limit screen time. I am sure my kids have always thought that I am too strict. Even though my boys are both in high school, we have never allowed video games on school nights. This is challenging during the summer because they think it is free reign. I have noticed that when they play games too long, their attitude changes and I don’t like it. Before anyone can play video games in the summer, all chores must be done and they must have done something like read or go outside for a while. It’s sometimes like scraping slugs off the floor. Ha! This is where my kids would say, “Can you just be a mom and not a teacher mom?” Bwhahahaha! Um, the answer is no.
Keep a summer journal. Buy a cheap spiral, some fun pens, pencils and crayons and encourage your child to write a story a few times a week. They can write about their day, something they want to do or even a fiction text. I bet you have a kid that can write a great fairy tale or Lego story!
Find math in everything. You can always ask your child’s teacher for extra work or left over workbooks for the summer but really, there is so much math that you can do just by having conversations or even cooking. Let your kids count out the eggs, measure the water. Ask them questions that make them think. For example, “We have four chairs at our table and each chair has four legs. How many legs is that in all?”
You don’t have to do these suggestions over the summer but I encourage you to do something. It really helps your child start the year off right when they can retain what they learned in school. On the flip side, kids need to play and have fun during the summer. They have worked hard and are mentally ready for this break. Even though I try to add enrichment activities to my kids’ lives, I still make sure they have time to just be kids. Sleep late. Play hard. Have fun. These tips are to promote educational activities but I guarantee they will also lead to great memories and tons of summer fun.
It’s going to be a great summer!
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