By now, you’ve probably heard of “summer slide” or “brain drain,” and you don’t want your children to experience summer learning loss. You know your kids need to keep up the skills they’ve learned in school so they don’t lose that knowledge and start the next school year lagging behind. Or, maybe you have kids who haven’t quite mastered those skills and really need to dig in deeper over the summer months. Then there are those summer packets and required reading lists – every student needs to make sure these are completed before the end of the summer. Whatever the case may be, your children need to use their reading, writing and math skills over the summer break if you want them to start the next school year off right.
So, how do you get your kids to practice academics when the pool, water gun fights, and video games beckon louder? Most kids don’t relish the idea of using school skills during the summer. They normally view this as “more work.” But there are some easy ways you can incorporate continuing learning, practice and assignment completion into the months away from school without sacrificing the summer entirely. In this three-part series, we’ll share over the course of the week some key ideas for getting your kids to practice their academic skills over the summer months.
Part 1: Setting Up for Summer Success
Make a Plan
Waiting until the last minute doesn’t usually end well, especially when it comes to packets of summer work or assigned reading. That said, spreading out the work and timing it for the best recall for your student does work well. For example, if your child has something like a series of observations to record and write about for science class, this is the type of assignment you want to plan for and spread over the summer evenly. If you have a trip scheduled, make sure the science journal goes with you – it can be a lot more fun to make observations and record them in a new setting, waiting for a plane, on a long car ride, etc. Make sure your child starts the assignment right at the beginning of the summer when the steps to follow are still freshly in mind. Spreading out the work makes sense for other types of assignments, too, like math packets or computer practice, such as math skills sites like IXL or typing programs. “Cramming” for these, right at the end of summer, doesn’t help your child learn how to apply the concepts correctly.
For other types of assignments, like book lists, it actually may make sense to wait a little, depending on how many books must be read over the course of the summer. For example, if your child has two assigned readings for the summer, it might be tempting to “get it over with” early; but, a lot of exciting things can happen over the summer months, and, when school starts up again and students are expected to discuss their summer reading, it can be challenging to recall the details of what was read so long ago. Instead, consider starting midsummer with the easier read and late summer for the most challenging read (THIS DOESN’T MEAN STARTING THE HARDEST BOOK WITH TWO DAYS LEFT OF SUMMER BREAK! For these purposes, “late summer” means the end of July/beginning of August). If it is for a specific class, such as history, and will be discussed in-depth to start off the school year, this is the type of reading your student should time closer to the end of summer (the beginning of August). If the assignment is more like, “3 books of your choice” or from a reading-for-pleasure list, these should be spread out over the summer months more evenly. Taking good but simple-to-do notes all along the way for all reading will also help with recalling important information and details.
After you create and map out the plan for summer work with your children, including non-academic activities, goals and wishes in between, check in with your children frequently to make sure they are staying on track (and you are keeping any promises about breaks or rewards).
Coming Soon: Part 2 – Diving into Summer Learning
Highlighted Summer Academic Programs:
Summer learning and skill practice CAN BE FUN while preventing summer learning loss! If your child likes to draw and/or write, RITES offers engaging, fun, creative summer camps that focus on these skills. Children who participate in these classes make their own colorful, creative books to take home.