Summer has finally arrived! While the sunny days of summer typically lend themselves to pool parties and backyard BBQ’s, we all wonder how this summer will unfold. With many youth camps, sports leagues, and extracurricular classes canceled or postponed, our children are facing another 3 months of limited social interaction and potential cognitive regression. Oxford Learning reports that on average children lose 2.6 months of math skills and 2 months of reading skills over summer break. These setbacks often force schools to reteach skills for the first 4-6 weeks of the school year. https://www.oxfordlearning.com/summer-learning-loss-and-how-to-prevent-it However, the nation-wide shut down of schools this past spring has many concerned about what the academic impact will be for students returning in the fall. Fortunately, with a little creativity and effort, these summer learning losses can be minimized allowing your child to be prepared when the school doors open in a few months. Here are a few tips to help you keep your child cognitively engaged over the summer.
Carve out some time throughout the week to spend with your child doing activities that encourage interaction, problem solving, and creativity. Researchers have found that children who review or reinforce math and reading concepts 2-3 times a week over summer avoid the 2-month learning loss that occurs over the break. By incorporating into your summer schedule academic review, you provide your child with the opportunity to retain what has been learned as well as introduce upcoming concepts in the next school year.
While it is important to set time aside for learning, it is essential to know what concepts are appropriate and necessary for each grade level. Most schools can provide you with a list of core concepts that are covered in each grade for each subject. Often, teachers will provide a general list of books, materials, or content to review over summer. Sometimes contacting a teacher for a list of concepts specific to your child can prove to be more helpful especially if hiring a tutor. Summer workbooks, educational websites or apps, or summer school packets are a few ways to obtain material appropriate to your child’s grade level.
With a little research, you can find a plethora of learning ideas that are creative, fun, and inexpensive. One key to selecting a creative learning-based project is to identify your child’s interests. Does your child navigate towards the arts, sciences, sports? Incorporating their passions and interests into academic assignments or projects will not only encourage your child to be more interested but will also maximize the retention and/or mastery of concepts learned. For example, teach a lesson on renewable solar energy. Then, build a solar car and hold races in the backyard. Experiment by testing its ability on sunny, cloudy, and rainy days. Create a bar graph of the results. For artistic children, have them draw a design of their own solar car. If your child enjoys reading, choose a book about space exploration and solar uses. If your child enjoys music, have them create a song about solar energy. If your child enjoys entertaining, make a video documenting the construction and experimentation of solar energy. It takes a little work to develop a lesson creatively, but the results are worth it. Not only will your child have a higher level of mastery of the concept; more importantly, they will love learning!
Excitement is contagious! Approaching learning with enthusiasm creates a more engaging learning environment. Kids enjoy positive attention. They enjoy exploring and discovering and collaborating. Being involved and interested in the learning process with your child will encourage participation. Incorporating incentives for progress and/or positive participation will also create excitement for learning. Extending the excitement by getting other family members or friends involved is also validating for a child. Have your child share the progress with others so they can feel well-supported in their pursuit of learning.
Dive into some creative academic projects this summer! Determine to make this summer enjoyable, engaging, and exciting. While some of the usual channels for learning may be limited this summer, use this opportunity to create some fresh and fun ideas… and who knows – this may be the most memorable summer you have!
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