by Jan Udlock
Summer’s here, and kids are out of school. Even though they’re excited to be out,
studies show that children can lose as minimally as two months worth of math and reading skills. Because of this loss, parents should take an active role in their child’s learning over the carefree summer months.
Pick a Goal
You probably already know your child’s academic strengths and his weaknesses. Pick a goal from one of his strengths and one of areas he needs to improve on. That way he can have an area that is fun to work on and another one that is more of a challenge.
You also know what is a fair limit as to how long to read or how often she should work on a subject for their specific child. Set reasonable limits to still make it fun and yet a challenge.
Keep a Daily Routine
Most kids need structure while school is out so set up a general routine. Some kids have no problem in making the transition from school work to no school. However, other kids need more structure in their day to day living, such as reading after breakfast. You can require a quiet time after lunch where kids can write in a journal or do quiet activities and mom gets some quiet time, too. Even though they make balk at setting up a simple schedule, structure gives kids a sense of security and self-discipline.
Work on Math Skills
There are hundreds of fun ways to work on math skills while your kids are away from desks and homework. And it’s to your child’s advantage to learn basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts.
When you’re standing in line with your kids, pull out your wallet. With younger kids, show them different coins and ask them the value of each coin. With an older child, pick out an item out of your grocery basket and ask them what would be the change if you bought it with a dollar.
If you have a beginning reader at your house, read to her on a regular basis. “Reading together for just a few minutes each night will dramatically improve your child’s literacy skills and help them to develop a lifelong love of reading,” says child education expert, Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye, the CEO of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life). Imagination is increased, too.
Technology is helpful and fun for kids so check out educational apps that are age appropriate for your child. “Since kids like technologies, it’s a good thing since mobile technologies provide novel and unique opportunities for learning,” says Elliot Soloway, an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan. Of course set the necessary limits on computer time but it can also be used as an incentive to get other work done.
Start a Business
Do you have a budding entrepreneur? There is an entire set of valuable social skills involved in kids reaching out to their neighbors offering dog walking services, lawn and garden watering or helping in the yard.
Kids can design a flyer on the computer and then take it around your neighborhood. You can discuss what are some good business practices like being on time, doing a thorough job, and setting a fair price. And don’t be afraid if your child’s job has to be redone to the neighbor’s satisfaction. The experience of your child working with a trusted neighbor can be beneficial for years to come.
Work on Self Directed Learning
Boredom is bound to happen since summer has begun. However, don’t let the words, “there’s nothing to do!” scare you as a parent. “Being bored is a learning opportunity, an opportunity to practice self-directed learning,” says Soloway. Depending on the age of your child, offer him some suggestions and then wait and let him make a decision on what he wants to do. Self-directed learning is a skill kids can learn so you may need to help them with some self discovery by asking questions and offering suggestions.
Search for Field Trips
Take your kids to the local museum and watch what interests them. What do they get excited about? What local park activity can your child participate in while he’s learning? “Many local museums offer free admission during the summer months, with great programming geared toward expanding children’s academic knowledge,” says child education expert, Dr. Tiffany Cooper Gueye, the CEO of BELL (Building Educated Leaders for Life).
It always takes a bit longer when you cook with your child or when you discuss cost per unit at the grocery store. “Yet, parents play an integral role in combating summer learning loss and can dramatically help their children to get off to a strong start in the new school year,” says Gueye. So have fun in the sun as you make learning fun.
Jan Udlock is a freelance writer and mom of five. She’s always looking for fun ways for her kids to learn over the summer.
Roll a pair of dice and have older kids multiply the two numbers while younger kids can add the numbers.
Use a timer for 30 mins for reluctant readers.
Search for free math worksheets online for whatever grade your child is in.
Double a recipe of cookies and see if your child can do the math in her head.
Write math problems with chalk on the sidewalk in a hopscotch design. As your child hops to each square, have them complete the problem.
Write words with water and a paint brush on the sidewalk and see if your child can read it before it evaporates.
Have your child measure the floor perimeter and draw a floor plan of their room.
Teach your child how to tip 15%. An easy way to remember how to find 10%, is you move the decimal over one space to the left. Then take half of it or 5% and add it to the percentage, and you have 15%. For example 10% of $13.62 is $1.36. Half of $1.36 is 68 cents. Add the two percentages and you have your tip. Yes, most phones have a tip finder but if kids have a general idea about percentages, they’ll have an advantage.