You may be thinking to yourself, it’s the end of the school year and summer is right around the corner. We are going to have a blast this summer! And then you begin to wonder: What is my summer going to look like? What plans do I have for my child over the summer? Do I need to continue with some sort of educational instruction, or should I just let kids be kids?
These questions are completely valid and probably on every parent’s mind at this time of year. Studies have shown students lose on average 20-25% of what they were taught throughout the year over the summer. That’s why many teachers spend the entire month of September reteaching skills from previous years. So, what can you do to prevent the summertime slide? It’s not as difficult as you may think.
1. Stick to a routine. Children like routines. Adults like routines too. But that doesn’t mean the routines have to be the same as they were during the school year. Create larger chunks of time for a more casual breakfast or outdoor free play. However, try to keep sleeping patterns the same, because these are more difficult to transition back to once summer is over.
2. Add inquiry into their day. Give your child a question that does not have an easy yes or no answer, and definitely not something they can “look-up” on the internet. Here are a few examples: If you were a bird in our backyard, what would you use to make a nest? How long does it take an ice cube to melt during different parts of the day? And for those rainy days that are bound to happen, how many commercials are played in between your shows? Is it always the same amount? How many advertise toys? Do the commercials tend to focus on a certain age group or gender? A lot of questions regarding advertising can be asked here.
3. Integrate art into your weekly activities. Children love arts and crafts, and it doesn’t have to be anything extravagant. Outlining shadows of their favorite toys only requires a plain piece of paper and a pencil. Sidewalk chalk can promote art and physical activity by creating an “obstacle” course or even a good old-fashioned hopscotch game. Painting on shaving cream adds a 3D effect that will help students differentiate objects and shapes.
4. Go places, any place! A simple trip to the grocery store can have kids reading labels, comparing prices, rounding numbers, as well as identifying different types of fruits and vegetables. Day trips to museums, historic places, or even guided tours of factories will give kids experiences they can’t get in the classroom. And the knowledge they get from these trips will transfer to their school work in years to come.
It’s inevitable. Kids will forget things along the way. Many have trouble remembering where they put their shoes last! But there are fun and relatively simple activities that won’t just prevent summer learning loss, but give your child an edge over their peers in years to come.