School is out for the summer. Three months of less structured time for the kiddos and more time for family, travel, and special activities. Summertime is awesome!
But the downside can be a loss of skills and knowledge. Each year in my first grade classroom I would spend a great deal of time focusing on the skills the children learned in kindergarten, reviewing concepts and practicing skills. Most children simply did not keep up with what they had learned over the summer months.
Here are three ideas to avoid the summer brain drain.
1. Read, read, read! Reading is the single best academic skill to nurture. First of all, spend time reading to your children, even kids in high school. Alternate reading chapters aloud, read recipes or make the story come alive with animated voices. Kids who are read to become better readers. Second, kids who see their parents reading, read more. Children may not always do what we ask, but they always do what they observe us doing. Have a family reading time when each family member reads quietly. Lastly, kids who read well excel in other content areas. Math, science, and social studies all require reading.
If you’re looking for summertime book recommendations, download the FREE Summer Reading List from 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting. There are recommended titles for babies to adults. There’s also a link to a Book Bingo Board to encourage children to read.
2. Use the summer months to review math skills. Travel, trips to the hardware store, and even the backyard garden can be opportunities to sharpen math skills. Encourage kids to calculate distance and gas mileage on the family vacation. Children can determine how many nails or screws are needed to repair the deck. They can keep track of the growth of plants in the garden, make charts to show harvest time and vegetable varieties, and measure rainfall.
3. Dive into special interests. What unique interests do your children enjoy that can be studied over the summer months? What skills need a bit more practice? According to Megan Stone, M.Ed., founder of Stone Foundations of Learning, Inc., and author of Own Your Education: A Student’s Guide to Greater Success in School (and Life), students lose 25% or more of learned material over summer vacation if they do not continue with some type of enrichment or learning activities. Megan recommends offering unique educational opportunities over the summer months. I totally agree!
Give your children an opportunity to use a special interest as a learning experience. An art or photography class can spark creativity. A book on crazy science experiments can be a whole summer of enrichment for your little scientist. (Supervision may be needed!) There are many camp offerings for children in select areas of interest too: gymnastics, sailing, pottery, painting, and more. Check with the latest copy of Hooray! for Family for other suggestions!
Keep the learning alive this summer. Brain drain will diminish. Most of all have fun with your children!
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