Summer is my favorite time of year. No more rushing the kids around to practice, music lessons or girl scouts. It is also a much needed break from homework, projects and studying. It is so nice to spend a few weeks sleeping in late and lazing around by the pool.
However, as a result of all of this unstructured fun, kids can easily forget everything they learned from the previous school year. So, what’s the big deal? Won’t their teachers spend the month of September reviewing everything to catch them up?
Not necessarily. School is much more rigorous now than at any other time in history, putting teachers and students under a great amount of pressure to perform. The days of using the month of September to review forgotten information are over. Now, teachers are expected to jump right into grade level curriculum at the start of the first bell in September.
This means that more responsibility is placed on parents to keep kids up to speed over the summer. But before you panic, this does not mean that you have to go out and hire an expensive tutor or force your kids to complete hours of work instead of hitting the beach. With a few, simple steps, you can ensure that your child doesn’t fall behind and is prepared for a successful school year.
4 THINGS PARENTS CAN DO TO KEEP KIDS LEARNING THIS SUMMER
1. Read, read, read! I know you’ve heard this way too much but, reading is the number one way to keep your kids on track. Did you know that some kids regress as many as two reading levels over the summer? Ask your children’s teachers what reading levels they are on before the school year ends and then head to the library. Your librarian will be able to direct you to books that your children can read on their own. Be sure to let your children pick books that interest them. We want them to love reading!
If you are having trouble motivating your youngster, try children’s magazines as an alternative to books. Magazines cover an array of interests from animals to sports to cooking. You can also sit with your children and take turns reading. Another fun idea is to sign up for a Summer Reading Club at the library, school or local book store. Most importantly, be sure to include reading time everyday of the summer. Twenty minutes a day is all it takes.
2. Math Facts Practice. Starting in kindergarten, kids really need to know their math facts in order to succeed. By the end of second grade, they should be able to know all addition and subtraction facts by memory from 1-10. By the end of third grade, they need to know all of their multiplication facts by memory from 1-12. This means no counting on fingers. The only way kids get better at this is with practice.
Good old flash cards will do the trick if you have a child who will use them. I like to use flash cards with my kids on long car rides. I also ask them random math facts during the day. I have found that my kids find math most enjoyable when I make a game out of it. I print out basic addition sheets and have my kids race each other (or me) to see who can answer the most questions correctly in one minute. I also reward them for each set of facts they memorize. Facts 1-5 earned a trip to the ice cream shop!
3. Time and Money. These are difficult concepts for children to grasp because of the prevalence of digital clocks and credit cards. Without seeing the visual exchange of paper money and the hands turning on a clock, kids just don’t get the practice they need to be successful in these areas. So, how do parents help kids to be successful telling time and counting money? If you don’t have one in your home already, buy an analog clock and ask your child what time it is throughout the day. Don’t forget to ask them about elapsed time as well. For example, “How many more minutes until swimming lessons?” Kids younger than 5 are able to tell you what number the hands are pointing to, but “telling time” is a skill for older kids.
To practice with money, simply let your kids pay for things at the store with paper money and coins. Most older kids need practice counting coins, so let them empty their piggy banks to pay for the next trip to the store. Younger kids can learn the names of the coins and how much they are worth. You can also roll extra change as a family and have the kids add it all up to spend on a family outing.
4. Writing. Each summer, I buy each of my kids a black and white composition book to use as a summer journal. A few times a week, I have them write about one of our adventures and draw a picture. When they were little, the journals were mostly filled with pictures and my handwriting as they dictated the caption to me. Now, they get excited to write all about their summers and we keep the books to remember each special memory.
Do you have any tips or tricks that you would like to share with us? We would love to hear about them in the comments below!
Thanks for reading,