By Todd Pristas and Joel Sweda
If you are like most Virginia parents, you are focusing on improving your child’s grades, planning summer activities and wondering how to combat summer learning losses.
Did you know that over the two-month summer break, your child’s test scores can be reduced by one month? Taken over the entire period from kindergarten to 12th grade, summer learning loss can equal a full year or more of education. Dr. Harris Cooper, PhD Social Psychology, Duke University, estimates that losses in mathematical computation skills over the summer months can be approximately 2.6 months of grade equivalency.
Here are 5 Tips to keep learning going:
1. Stock Up on Learning Materials
Books are a great way to reinforce academic learning and develop basic reading skills. Ask your child’s teacher or school librarian for summer reading lists appropriate for your child’s age and ability. Make reading fun by taking a blanket outside under a tree or make a reading nook inside with pillows and a basket of books.
Writing should be an important element in your child’s daily routine. Have paper, pencils and crayons handy. Encourage your child to write about day trips, summer vacations, museum visits and sports events. Even making a “to do” list or shopping list provides experience with spelling. Children can describe current news or summarize, contrast and compare their daily or weekly events. Creating a family or neighborhood newsletter is a great project and a memorable keepsake.
Games and flash cards are great learning enhancers. Not only are games good to pass the time but they help children develop strategic thinking. Flash cards can be an excellent way to continuously review basic math facts, states and capitals, vocabulary, and other facts.
If your children have a flare for art, read them a story or attend an event together. Afterwards, encourage them to illustrate the main idea by drawing or painting.
2. Make Household Routines a Learning Experience
Involve your children in the planning and performing of annual jobs such as organizing the garage or basement. They learn the names of tools and other items in the garage or basement, how to divide and conquer a large task and have the satisfaction of seeing the results of their hard work.
Have your children run errands and do small jobs around the house. They learn new skills and the importance of completing tasks. If you pay them, your children can earn some money and learn how to become responsible by creating a savings and budget plan.
Plan your vacation together as a family and involve your children in the research. Once you select a destination, ask your children to develop ideas for activities. Without using Internet map programs, ask them to calculate the shortest distance between two sights, determine the most scenic route, etc.
Finally take a little extra time at the dinner table to discuss local news, festivals, sporting events and art shows. Your children will learn more about their community as well as becoming aware of regional and national issues.
3. Calculate Math Into the Equation
Math should be part of everyday life. We can do a lot to strengthen our childrens’ skills by asking them to keep a journal of money they spend. Other ideas for continuous math learning include plotting the daily temperatures and comparing them to the previous year, cooking and measuring ingredients, and having your child estimate grocery costs; keeping records of their cost over the summer. Various counting exercises can be done to continuously remind your children of counting as well as other computations.
4. Enroll Your Child in an Educational Program
Avoid summer learning losses by continuously learning in the summer months. Your child can get a head start on next year while obtaining positive feedback and instant success, all critical for building confidence. If your child has some weaknesses, which have been identified based on their report card, now is time to address them by enrollment at a reputable learning center. Just a few hours a week of personalized tutoring can correct deficiencies and provide a continuous learning structure over the summer months. Enrichment programs can reinforce basic reading and math skills or challenge your child with new concepts.
5. Dive Into Your Community
Your community has many great resources, especially the local library. Librarians can provide suitable book lists and help you get involved summer reading programs and special events.
Scan the Internet and newspapers for museums, parks and zoos to learn more about our heritage and culture. Whether it is a day at one of the DC museums or a short journey toward the mountains, make your trip an educational experience. With your children, make a list of the plants or animals you saw during the day. Have your child write a story about the trip and summarize their observations and conclusions. Ask your children to write a letter to the museum curator or zookeeper describing what they observed or enjoyed most about the visit. Together create a brochure on how to advertise the park, museum or zoo.
By implementing these 5 Action Steps for Summer Learning, your child can go back to school in the fall prepared for their lessons and well ahead of the curve. Plus, your child can enjoy learning during the summer. Utilize the resources available in your community, and show enthusiasm for the learning process. Learning shouldn’t stop because summer is here!
Todd Pristas and Joel Sweda are the Directors of Learning at Woodbridge West KnowlegePoints, and Manassas KnowledgePoints Leaning Centers. They provide a personalized approach to basic tutoring in reading, math and study skills all year round. The KnowledgePoints program consists of a diagnostic skills assessment, individualized instruction, and an effective motivational system that helps children build skills and helps them gain desire and confidence to succeed. For further information, please visit their website, www.knowledgepoints.com , or call 703-986-3723 (Woodbridge) or 703-331-4778 (Manassas).