Any parent of a school age child has more than likely heard the term “Summer Slide.” Summer learning loss is inevitable when the lazy days of summer set in. It is avertible though, and if your kids haven’t kept up with keeping up with academics these days, it’s not too late to set a routine that will get them in top shape for the start of a new school year.
One simple way to give kids a jump start for the school year and to keep children’s minds engaged academically is to keep them reading,” says Lisa Dodge, M.ED., Ed.S., principal of Saint Ambrose School. “Teachers assign summer reading for a reason, and the reason is not to bore the students or add unnecessary stress upon families. Studies show that students who read are more successful academically. Summer reading not only helps the Language Arts/Reading teacher but also the Social Studies, Science, and even the Math teachers.”
Research shows that all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. An average of two months of grade level equivalency in math skills are lost over the summer months.
“As we all strive for each child to meet his/ her potential, over the summer we require all incoming kindergarten through eighth grade students to obtain five bronze certificates via mathletics.com over the summer by reviewing math skills they learned throughout the year,” says Caroline Roberts, principal of St. Joan of Arc Catholic School. “I strongly encourage parents to consider this website for their children. The program is both fun and helpful for the students. The students can even practice competing against other students around the world on computation skills in speed and in accuracy.”
For reading, St. Joan of Arc requires students to read several assigned age-appropriate books and complete a project relating to one of the books. When possible, get children involved in the selection process so they can choose books with topics of interest.
“Perhaps you can read the book with your child at night and take turns reading paragraphs or pages. This practice will also provide an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the book and discuss how the book connects to the student’s life,” Roberts suggests.
St. Ambrose provides a reading list to its students and families looking to strengthen skills over the summer. They also urge parents to review basic math skills and multiplication facts. There are also free online resources, such as Khan Academy, Dodge suggests, that help keep kids engaged and learning lessons in all subjects.
“Do you practice for your sports team? For your dance recital? For your instrument? Have you returned to a new season with your skills a little rusty and you were frustrated or disappointed? Think of school just like that. Practice for the upcoming school year by reading and working on your weaker skills so you can skip the beginning of the year frustration and angst. You don’t like to read? Find something that interests you: sports articles about your favorite athlete or team, articles about things you want to do, articles about dreams you want to achieve, and start there!” Dodge says.
Academic review is not just for elementary and middle school students. High school students should continue practicing their skills over the summer as well and keep on top of AP summer work.
“If parents want to smooth the transition between the school year and summer, they can start by thinking like a teacher,” Dodge suggests. “Create a loose routine during the summer that includes 30 minutes of reading in the morning and 30 minutes of math during the day. Give them weekends off, like the school year, and even mini vacations here and there.”
Charts, rewards and incentives are one way to encourage kids to keep up with their studies, Roberts says. Maybe they can earn points for a playdate if they read a certain amount, or a trip to the zoo if they complete their math review. Kids should also set goals for the upcoming school year.
“Studies show that both at work and in your professional life when you have goals you perform much better. In order to prepare for the upcoming school year, discuss with your child what are some goals he/ she wishes to achieve,” Roberts says. “Write those goals on paper and create an action plan with your child. Ask yourselves the following questions: What can you do to reach those goals? What specific dates are you going to set to reflect if the goals are being met? How will I know I am meeting my goals? In other words, how can you measure these goals? Post the goals in your child’s room and in a common area such as the kitchen as a reminder. Most importantly, encourage your child to stick to his/ her goals and celebrate each success!”