(StatePoint) “No more pencils, no more books” is a familiar summer refrain. But make sure your youngster doesn’t take those words too seriously.
All students — regardless of socio-economic status — lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation over summer, according to a Johns Hopkins study. The study also concluded that low-income students experience significant losses in reading comprehension and word recognition while on break. This pattern of academic regression has been dubbed “summer slump.”
Fortunately — for proactive parents — these quick-and-easy tips can help stem its tide.
Watch Your Language
You’ve probably admonished your son or daughter with this phrase, but when it comes to summer learning, take heed of it yourself. When kids are enjoying vacation, they may not want to hear words like “school,” “educational” or “assignment.” Try using words like “exploration,” “adventure” and “discovery” instead.
Make Learning Fun
Remember when you had to take a spoonful of cough medicine and your mom or dad would let you wash it down with something sweet? For kids, summer learning can be a bitter pill to swallow, but it tends to go down more easily when paired with a fun activity.
The National Center for Families Learning (NCFL), for instance, has created a program called Camp Wonderopolis, a digital platform aiming to harness the spirit of exploration and adventure captured by traditional summer camps.
After registering at www.Wonderopolis.org/camp, kids can wend their way through six science-themed tracks and 42 individual lessons, all of which can help combat the dreaded “summer slump.” For parents who want to keep kids active during the summer months, Camp Wonderopolis also features hands-on offline activities. “The key is to make learning feel like an extension of their vacation,” says NCFL Vice President Emily Kirkpatrick. “Camp Wonderopolis seeks to tap into a child’s natural feelings of wonder and curiosity, allowing learning to occur organically.”
Why should kids spend the summer learning while mom and dad get off the hook? It’s easier to get cooperation when learning is a shared experience, so dust off some books you never got around to reading and share them together.
Power of Choice
Oftentimes, kids rebel against schoolwork simply because it’s obligatory. Their teachers assign books to read and problems to solve without their input, and set hard deadlines for when such work must be completed. Put your child in the driver’s seat over summer by letting them tell you what they’d like to learn. Instead of mapping out a strict plan, take a trip to the bookstore and let kids pick out books.
Many young people are invigorated by this sort of freedom and may even choose something more challenging than you would have selected. There are plenty of strategies that will keep your kids learning over summer. Approach the subject tactfully and your youngster will have a leg-up when it’s time to head back to school.