Summer is officially upon us and the biggest worry for teachers is the summer slide. A 2013 survey of 500 teachers by the National Summer Learning Association showed that nearly 66 percent reported needing TO DEVOTE 3-4 WEEKS TO REVIEWING OR RE-TEACHING THE SAME MATERIAL at the beginning of the school year that their students had learned the previous spring. Another 24 percent reported spending 5 WEEKS OR MORE backtracking before deciding it was safe to proceed to new terrain. This means that during a 40-week academic calendar, teachers have to spend more than 10 percent of it pulling their students back up to where they had been before the summer slide.
So what can parents do to help? Here are the top 10 “Easy Summer Learning Tips for Parents” according to the National Summer Learning Association (www.summerlearning.org)
Summer reading should be FUN reading! Help your child read ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that interests him or her. A great way to get started is by celebrating the end of the school year with a special trip to the library or a bookstore. Don’t forget to set a good example by reading yourself!
- Have Fun with Numbers.
Find creative ways to practice math: ask your child to help you tally the bills at the grocery store, calculate time, or follow a recipe. Some children enjoy math workbooks or online worksheets – there are lots of free ones.
- Turn off the TV! Turn off the screens!
A little bit of screen time is ok – but too much screen time is not healthy. Monitor (and limit) screen time in the summertime just as you would during the school year.
- Make Art!
Kids love are projects of every kind – but they rarely have enough time during the school year to draw and paint and construct as much as they’d like. Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one once we grow up.” Let the summer months be the time when your child discovers that he or she has the amazing ability to create through art.
- Experiment! Do Science!
Watch an ice cube melt. Grow grass. Play with magnets. Collect rocks. Collect leaves. Summer is a great time to experiment with science.
- Eat smart. Eat Healthy.
It’s ok to eat ice cream on a hot summer day – but don’t eat only ice cream. Kids need help eating healthy. Without the structure of the school day, some kids tend to eat tons of junk food during the summer. Keep plenty of fresh fruits and veggies at the ready, like carrot and celery sticks with hummus, ranch dressing or peanut butter for “skinny dipping.”
Some children experience unhealthy levels of weight gain during the summer months because they get less exercise when schools are closed. It’s important to help your child stay physically active all summer long.
- Go to a museum – again and again.
For every child with an interest, there is a museum with a special collection. Insects? Space travel? The ocean? Art? History? Find a museum and visit it – whether in person or online.
- Read a poem.
Here’s the start of a silly, ridiculous, funny, poem by Shel Silverstein:
Millie McDeevit screamed a scream
So loud it make her eyebrows steam.
She screamed so loud her jawbone broke,
Her tounge caught fire, her nostrils smoked …
This just one of a thousand wonderful poems for children. Google “funny poems for children” and see which one your child enjoys. Read them aloud. Memorize a line or two. Substitute words to make your own rhymes. Ask your child to describe the poem in their own words and what it means.
- Finally … go to sleep!
Keep a bedtime routine. It’s ok for your child to stay up a bit later in the summer buts it’s still very important to maintain a regular bedtime and routine. For example, if you read a bedtime story to your child during the school year, then read a bedtime story during the summer.