Seven Ways to Keep Your Kids Learning All Summer Long
by Mrs. Jennifer Nicholson,
Elementary Teacher and
Mom of Three HCA Students
Are you counting down the days until summer break at your house? Will your students attend day camp, sports camp, sleep-away camp, visit family, travel, or spend time at home? The options are seemingly endless, but one thing is certain, summer is different from the rest of the year. It sure is at our house with our three kids!
Research indicates that during the 10 weeks of summer, almost all students will experience some level of “brain drain” or “summer learning loss.” This results in everyone (students, teachers, parents, and caregivers) doing extra work at the beginning of the next school year. The antidote to playing catch-up in August, however, is for the students to continue reviewing and learning over summer break!
Summer learning can take on many different forms, depending on each individual circumstance. It does not require hours of formal learning each day—but it does require a plan, and, in many cases, accountability.
A realistic, achievable goal is to engage your students in learning for 30 to 60 minutes, on an average of three to five days each week. Summer learning can include a combination of workbook activities, online activities, videos, flash cards, and books to read. Other great ways to learn and grow include volunteer work and incorporation of important academic concepts during everyday activities. You may be able to work with your child at home or you may need to get help from a relative, friend, or tutor.
Here are seven practical ideas that may work for your student(s), depending on their grade levels.
1. Buy a Summer Bridge Activities book online or at a bookstore. This is a good grade level review with achievable goals. You may want to work through the current grade level quickly and then challenge your student with the next grade level. For students entering K-2nd grade, an Abeka Handbook for Reading and Phonics Chart CD would be a great addition.
2. Take weekly trips to the library and participate in the HCA Summer Reading Contest (for grades 1-6). The summer schedule for the HCA library will be posted on the website. Local libraries also typically have summer reading contests with fun prizes.
3. Sign up your child for a learning activity. Check city websites, parks, stores, etc. Many learning opportunities are free or low cost.
4. Find a volunteer or apprenticeship opportunity for your student. This could be an independent opportunity for junior high or high school students or a family activity for those with younger children.
5. Visit a local, state, national park, or historical attraction. The amount of learning that can be obtained in this way is incredible and will often impact students in ways that the traditional classroom can miss.
6. Put your kids to work each day. Jobs or chores that help family or neighbors can teach children so much about work ethic and responsibility. You may not always see the benefits of this immediately, but prayerfully, you will reap the reward of your effort in the years to follow.
7. Plan for your kids to attend VBS, church camp, or even volunteer at church this summer. You can visit gbcfl.org for details about the summer opportunities at Grace Church.
If these ideas sound a bit overwhelming, take a deep breath and just open your calendar! Start with the most important summer family events and activities, and then fill in other ideas as time allows.
For help in putting all this together for your student, reach out to our Highlands teachers, browse the internet for other summer learning activities, and feel free to email me at [email protected]. I’d love to share some of the things our three children will be doing over the summer to help them maintain what they’ve already learned—and even get a head start on what’s coming in the fall!
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