We know you are as committed to your children’s learning as we are, whether it’s during the school year or over the summer when school isn’t in session. Relaxation and the joy of summer’s unscheduled times are a valuable part of childhood. Unfortunately, for many children, the extended time away from the classroom can lead to a loss of up to a month of learning from the previous school year. Luckily, there’s a simple solution! A few fun but educational activities added to your summer plans can help reduce this summer slide and prepare children for a great start next fall.
What Is Summer Learning Loss?
Studies performed in countless locations and environments over the past century have shown that many students lose up to 40% of the previous year’s learning over the summer break. This results in each school year requiring time and effort spent to bring everyone up to a level before launching into the new year’s learning.
Limiting Summer Learning Loss
The good news is that it can be fun to help your children keep their skills and knowledge fresh, so they are better prepared and more confident when school resumes in the fall. Here are some suggestions.
Practice with Your Child
Whether you have a name-writing contest, count objects around the house, practice reading high-frequency words, or have a rhyming challenge, any activities you do with your young child that encourage them to focus on letters, numbers, word sounds, and patterns will help them. Pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten ages can enjoy writing simple letters to a relative, and working with some flashcards. Older children can enjoy more complicated wordplay and take advantage of online programs or workbooks.
Turn Everyday Activities into Learning
So many daily activities can incorporate a learning component, particularly for elementary-age children. Some examples:
- Choose a color and each of you counts the number of cars in that color that you pass as you drive.
- Figure out the time and ask how long until supper, or how many days until a particular event.
- Put a word of the week on the refrigerator and see who can use it the most times that week.
- Have your child help plan and write a grocery list.
- Put away the laundry together — count socks, too.
- Read a word on a sign and make a list of words that rhyme with it.
- Listen to audiobooks in the car or while doing some artwork together at home.
Play Games Together
Games are a wonderful way to make any learning fun and easy for everyone. For the youngest grades, an easy board game such as Candyland makes numbers more fun. Other fun games for younger children can include rhyming contests and alphabet games. Children in later grades can benefit from many online math and vocabulary games as well as more complicated games such as Scrabble and word and logic activities such as crossword puzzles and Sudoku. It’s easy to make homemade bingo games for any subject — letters, numbers, colors, or easy words for younger ones, and questions to answer for older ones to identify the spots to mark. Better yet, have your kids make the bingo games and everyone has fun playing. You might have each family member make a scavenger hunt that everyone can play together. You name it, there’s a game you can probably make from it.
Especially for younger children, maintaining fine motor skills is important, making it easier for them to control pencils, scissors, and other objects. Working with play-dough, helping you plant in the garden, digging in the sand, and other hands-on activities can help build hand strength and coordination. Children of any age can enjoy creating a home restaurant, from making a simple menu and setting the table to adjusting more complicated recipes and working out menu prices, and making changes. Older children can enjoy helping add and subtract ingredients for a recipe, keeping score in games, or working with budgets and food costs for a shopping trip. Journaling and creative writing are fun, engaging ways to practice language skills, and letter writing encourages those skills while helping stay in touch with family and friends who may be far away.
Reading, whether together with a younger child or independently for older children, is one of the easiest ways to keep their language skills fresh and build vocabulary. Whether you choose trips to the library or buy your own books, encouraging children to find a special interest and follow it with books, magazines, and other activities can make it more interesting and appealing for them at any age. Added benefits come with them telling you about what happened in the book or article. Set aside sometime each day for independent reading. You can make it fun for younger children with a sticker or rewards chart, too.
Check Out the Library
From books for every interest to STEM and STEAM classes, summer workshops, and more, libraries are full of materials and professional librarians to help you encourage learning over the summer. Our local library system offers many wonderful online resources, too, such as virtual storytimes for younger children and online resources for every subject and level.
Encouraging children to work independently can build self-confidence as well as help develop strong study skills. Pre-Kindergartners and Kindergartners can work on an art project, a small chore, or another task for 10-20 minutes on their own, while older children will benefit from time set aside each day for reading and learning on their own. You might want to subscribe to one of any number of STEM or STEAM boxes that deliver monthly kits such as Kiwi Crate or Goldieblox or purchase some individual kits.
At Las Vegas Day School, we strive to create lifelong learners. Encouraging learning when children are away from their more structured time at school is a wonderful way to do so while helping them perform better each year, too. Students who don’t feel left behind as a new school year begins are more self-confident and prepared to learn. We wish you a wonderful summer full of fun (and some learning) and look forward to seeing you again in the fall.
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