The Insiders Guide to Education
By RITES Learning Specialist and Education Advocate Saskia Nilsen, MSE
Summer Action Plan Part 2: What to Do at Home
What are the different options for summer academic work?
- Home Activities (family time that counts)
- ESY (Extended School Year)
- Summer Camps (blending academic with non-academic)
- One-to-one tutoring (when and why)
We’ll address each of these options in separate blogs, starting with what you can do at home this summer to help your kids retain the skills they’ve learned and understand concepts more deeply, all while having fun (you’ll have fun, too!).
How to get started at home
Establish Summer Routines: Some parents are great at establishing a reading routine throughout the summer from the get-go, with weekly trips to the local library and enrolling their kids in the library reading incentive program. Kids with any type of reading challenge will need a bit more than incentives to keep reading over the summer in order to maintain progress. For example, reading fluency can decrease over the summer if kids are not regularly reading out loud. Reading aloud, talking about what is being read to ensure reading comprehension, and writing in some format about the text should be part of any summer reading routine. (Creating this and other routines discussed has the added benefit of laying the groundwork for stronger study skills and organizational skills down the line!)
Lots of parents struggle to find meaningful ways to maintain other skills like writing and math over the summer that go beyond filling in the unfinished pages of a workbook. Simple things like reading and writing emails or helping with family food shopping budgeting can count, but should be highlighted in a regular routine and not just once in a while. It can be fun to get creative and do a science lab from a Janice Van Cleave book once a week that includes keeping a written science journal. Other ideas include writing book reviews for online literature blogs or writing scripts for mini-movies to be made with the family camera or iPad. Don’t feel like you have to cram it all in every day – make a calendar of the week that highlights a different academic area for each day of the week. Combine your child’s interests with the subject, like Lego fractions, writing Minecraft short stories or cooking chemistry. Summer is a great time to make learning fun and hands on!
Use Technology: you don’t have to do it all yourself. From looking up great ideas of summer learning activities to do with your kids to online learning sites, technology has made summer academic support a lot easier on parents. Summer is a great time to combine computer skill development with academic skill maintenance. There are tons of resources out there, ranging from free and fabulous to expensive and not the right match for your kid. (Stay tuned for a future blog including RITES-recommended summer technology.)
The advantage of a computer-based site or program is that parents can often track the time kids are spending and the progress they make. This data can often be printed and shared with the next year’s teacher. It is often worth paying a little to subscribe to certain sites for just the summer months or using programs that have a month free trial period. If your goal is just to keep your child’s math facts up to speed, online sites are the way to go, or consider investing in the portable, handheld FlashMaster (available for purchase online for around $55 – go to smile.amazon.com and select Rhode Island Tutorial & Educational Services as your charity of choice to receive 0.5% of the purchase price from Amazon!).
One use of technology with the most impact over the summer can be to practice typing. Installing a game-based keyboarding program like Type to Learn, can really give a child a leg up on transitioning to typing assignments. I do not recommend that all summer learning is computer-based, but a half an hour a day can do wonders with the right program, especially if it is followed up by some fun tech reward time.
In the next part in our Summer Action Plan series, we’ll talk about Extended School Year (ESY) – what it is, if your child qualifies, and what your options are.