Has elementary school dismissed for summer where you live? Here in the midwest, where kids start the school year mid-August, summer vacation is upon us. A magical time of playgrounds, libraries, swimming pools, and popsicles is here and I can’t wait.
Of course, the dreaded “summer learning loss” is also looming on the horizon. When kids take an extended break from school, they forget some of what they learn. I’ve honestly never worried about it before, but now that my daughter’s in elementary school, I want to make sure she’s flexing that brain of hers to minimize any loss that might occur.
So what can you do with your children to keep learning on the forefront of summer? Here are just a few easy things, many of which you probably already do. My advice would be if your child is more of a reader, make sure you focus on a few math ideas. If your child is more of a numbers fiend, then be sure to expose her to language activities.
1) Join your local summer reading program. Nearly every library runs one. Talk to your librarian if you’re not sure where to find the books on your child’s reading level. Barnes & Noble offers a summer reading program where children can keep a book log and then earn a free book for their efforts. Something I learned at a PTA meeting this year is that reading non-fiction does more to improve a child’s comprehension skills, which is something I’ll keep in mind as my daughter picks out books at the library.
2) Find a series your child loves. If you haven’t been to the young readers section of the bookstore or library lately, go visit. You’ll be amazed at the number of different series there are for the most basic reader all the way through middle school. Keep picking books from assorted series until a storyline or set of characters grabs her interest. From there, the rest is easy.
3) Use technology to your advantage. My daughter loves using apps on the iPhone and iPad, so I make sure she spends some time with educational apps before she starts playing Cut the Rope. We’ve just started using Ruckus Reader, which offers amazing story apps, complete with age-appropriate activities.
4) Model reading everyday. It’s important that your child see you read, and that she understands why you’re reading something. Are you reading a recipe? A set of directions for a game? A set of instructions for a craft project? Are you reading Facebook to keep up with your friends? Let her see you reading, and verbalize what you’re doing.
5) Don’t discount comics and graphic novels. Illustrated books can move a story along for a reader who needs more clues than the words can give, and they’re fun to boot. Bad Kitty is a favorite at my house, along with Zita the Space Girl. As a volunteer in my daughter’s school library, I also know that the Adventures of Tin Tin are immensely popular.
How else do you encourage your child to read during long school breaks? What kind of books do they like? Please share your thoughts in the comments- summer is long, and everyone loves variety!