Summer is a time for lounging by the pool, tackling the monkey bars, playing baseball with friends, and picnicking in the park. We look forward to this all year! Yet, summer break has a downside. It removes children from their regular academic schedule for up to ten weeks, which is too long, according to educational experts. They will tell you that kids can lose up to two months of reading and computational skills over the summer. As a result, teachers spend as many as six weeks (or more) reteaching the lost skills in the fall, and that delays the introduction of new material. That’s why it’s important to look for ways to engage your children in simple activities that will allow their brains to backup what they’ve learned, so they can hold on to it until school starts again in a couple of months. You’ll find many suggestions and activities for summer learning in this blog.
Keeping kids on track throughout the summer does not have to be difficult. It doesn’t need to involve tackling new material because the homework of summer is to simply hold on to what was learned during the past nine or ten months. MAD stands for “minutes a day,” and that’s all it takes to increase long-term retention. Here are some tips for keeping skills sharp without spoiling the fun of summer:
- Make it M.A.D. — minutes a day! Kids can practice for a few minutes every day or as little as three times per week.
- Choose practice items that revisit and review what kids know. The practice should include this year’s material as well as what was taught in previous years.
- Read to your child and/or set up a few minutes of silent reading as a regular part of every day. Get your child involved in reading activities at your local library.
- Visit websites that include free interactive educational activities.
- Let your child complete the work independently. Over summer break, the practice should include only material that the child is already familiar with. This will keep frustration out of the picture and make the work very manageable.
- Designate a workspace. Communicate the importance of summer academic work by helping your child to create a quiet, well-equipped work area.
- Be consistent. To get the benefits of any type of practice, the child must stick to a regular schedule. Remember, practice for a few minutes a day every day or at least three times per week.
- Check out Summer Solutions. These workbooks provide thirty lessons of distributed practice, a type of practice that is proven to increase long-term retention.