Summer is soooo needed. It’s a welcome time for children to take a break from the daily school schedule and have some down time. Now, summer time does not mean that there is a complete halt of learning! Did you know that over the summer some students lose up to 60% of the reading and math skills they learned during the year? (scholastic.com) Many people refer to this as seasonal brain drain. Research has shown that many teachers spend between 4 – 6 weeks re-teaching materials that students have forgotten over the summer. (today)?? Although everyone needs a break, students that spend some time on their basic reading, writing and maths skills fare better in the long run.
For the next two episodes, we are going to look at how you can make summer learning fun and avoid summer learning loss.
So let’s start by talking about electronic devices. I’m sure many of your children have just been waiting for the summer to arrive in hopes that there will be no screen time limits. Whenever I am asked about screen time and children, I remind parents that we have many great opportunities for learning and entertainment on tablets, computers and television. The important thing to remember is that technology should be used to enhance learning and not as the only form of learning. Let your child enjoy their electronics, but be sure to monitor the amount of time that they are spending on it daily, as well as ensure that you have a handle on what it is they are watching…or playing…especially if you are not home with them during the day.
The summer is a great time for your child to get lost in play! Yes…play. Children, especially young children, do some of their best learning through play. Encourage your children to play outside with their friends. Imaginative play flourishes when it is not on a timeline.
Riding bikes, playing basketball, hide and seek are all great activities to get lost in during the summer months.
You may even want to devote an entire table to Lego. Stock it with all sorts of fun Lego sets and encourage them to let their imagination run wild. Lego is not only for young children, as you can get sophisticated sets for teens and adults. When children and teens build, they keep their mind sharp. They enhance their visual spatial skills and can also improve their ability to follow directions.
One of the most basic summer time learning points is to read for pleasure. Reading needs to be made a priority. Not all students are eager to read, but with some encouragement and choice, even the most reluctant reader can jump on board the reading train.
In the summer I would worry less about what it is your child is reading and just ensure that they are reading. Magazines on tablets, mystery novels, celebrity gossip…it’s all reading. You may even decide to start reading a novel with your child. Read alouds help to encourage reading fluency and can also provide a great way for you to build on your child’s basic and higher order comprehension skills.
Keep in mind that reading books slightly below grade level also help with a child’s fluency. If you are choosing books at your child’s instructional level…which are slightly more difficult, you are going to want to make sure you provide support.