All through the year, kids long for the summer holidays when they can escape the pressures of school. However, studies show that achievement scores can decline by a month’s worth of school year learning when children don’t hone their academic skills over the summer. Summer learning loss is a real problem. What can parents do about it?
It’s essential to keep children learning throughout the summer in an enjoyable, low-pressure way that doesn’t switch them off. Here are five techniques that parents can use to keep their offspring on track.
Summer workbooks are an informative, structured tool to reinforce what students have learned throughout the year and can prepare them for the one ahead. Office Depot offers grade-specific workbooks from Scholastic and Summer Bridge Activities which support pre-kindergarteners through to grade 7/8 students with activities including math, social studies, and fitness.
Spending time with the kids on activities is a good opportunity for reconnecting and learning at the same time. Teaching children to cook can enable them to brush up on measuring, and therefore math, and can create opportunities for discussing everything from history (how did grandma cook?) through to health (why are greens good for you?)
For more fun, you can take it outside. Educational philosopher John Dewey advocated gardening as a form of education. You can think about the math of spacing seeds, the science of photosynthesis, and the basics of design. If you don’ have a garden or window box, then the warm weather is the ideal time for a nature walk. Consider supervising the kids while they race to spot and identify as many different plants as they can.
Reading is crucial during the summer months. A 2010 study from the University of Tennessee found that children who do not read in the summer lose 2 to 3 months of reading development, while those who do read gain a month.
Reading with your kids is a good way to encourage them. Another is by turning it into a game. Local libraries often have a kid’s summer reading challenge, or you can create one at home tailored to your children’s ages and interests. Maybe throw in a book from your childhood to discuss with them.
Thanks to modern devices, books need not be a solitary activity. Headed off for a long holiday road trip? Consider checking out audiobooks with kid-friendly titles that everyone can listen to aloud.
Kids shouldn’t slump on the couch on their phone or tablets each day, but that doesn’t mean a little screen time can’t be useful. Educational apps can help stimulate the mind, especially when enjoyed with an adult. For the under-fives, Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar lets kids design and color. It’s a good complement to the classic book. Older kids may enjoy Wizard School, a free app that covers a variety of subjects from science through to geography and lets kids create designs based on challenges from educators.
Camps that teach
If you can bear being apart from the kids for a week or two and have some cash to spare, consider an educational alternative to the traditional summer camp. National Computer Camps have been teaching kids to code since the days of the Apple 1, while Camp BizSmart will teach entrepreneurship to tomorrow’s young CEOs, covering skills ranging from product design to public speaking.
A debate camp can help hone your child’s critical thinking skills, or you could increase their international awareness at Concordia Language Village. It immerses children in other languages and cultures during its youth camps and family weeks and weekends.
Using these tools, parents can help their kids enjoy the fun and play that every summer holiday should bring, while still keeping them sharp for the fall. Whoever said that studying couldn’t be fun?
About the Author
Danny Bradbury has been writing about technology and business since 1989. His clients have included the Financial Times, the Guardian, and Canada's National Post.
All content provided herein is for educational purposes only. It is provided “as is” and neither the author nor Office Depot, Inc. warrant the accuracy of the information provided, nor do they assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.
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