When you think back to your summers as a child, you may fondly remember those carefree days when you didn't have to go to school and you could play outside for hours. Although unstructured play and downtime is so important for our children, fun learning and reading time should also be part of those long summer days. Decades of research have confirmed that children who do not remain academically engaged over the summer lose some of the learning they received in the previous school year. Teachers spend nearly a month of the new school year re-teaching the previous year's skills. Summers off are one of the most important, and least acknowledged, causes of underachievement in schools.
Keeping your child academically engaged over the summer doesn't have to be a chore for either you or your child. The following tips can help keep your child involved while having fun at the same time:
- Enroll your child in a summer program - Summer programs offered by schools, recreation centers, universities and community-based organizations can be educational, can fit a wide range of budgets and can be focused on a topic that interests your child.
- Read books with your child - Make time to read with younger children each day. If your children are older, encourage them to discuss or write about the book they are reading.
- Visit places that can be educational - If your family is planning to spend the day together, try to incorporate some fun learning wherever you go. Visiting parks, museums, zoos or nature centers can provide a low-cost educational opportunity for your child that's also fun for the whole family.
- Take regular trips to the library - Your community library is a great no cost resource for you and your child. You can check out books that interest your child or enroll in library summer reading programs.
- Incorporate math into your daily activities - You can help keep up your child's math skills by measuring items around the house and tracking daily temperatures. At the grocery store, you can add, subtract or multiply the prices of items. Involving your child while cooking is also a great way to expose them to fractions.
- Start getting ready for the next year - Reach out to the school or talk to teachers at the next grade level to find out what your child will be learning. Many schools have summer packets of math and reading skill activities that they are happy to share.
Helping your children stay engaged throughout the summer will help set them up for success in the new school year. You can learn about more ways to keep your children active and engaged by contacting a consultant through the Military OneSource website or by telephone at 800-342-9647.