June 17, 2012

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Guest Post: How Kids Can Stay Sharp Academically Over the Summer

How Kids Can Stay Sharp Academically Over the Summer
By Rick and Teena Kamal

When students think of summer time, they often look forward to beach trips, playing outdoors, hanging out with friends, and sleeping late. While these are all indulgences that kids deserve after a long, hard school year, too much of a good thing can have negative consequences come next school year. In fact, it’s a well-known fact that students lose an average of two months’ worth of instruction over the summer, forcing teachers to spend the first few weeks or more of the school year remediating instead of introducing new concepts. Luckily, staying sharp academically during the summer months doesn’t have to be a grueling process. Given the right resources and techniques, helping your child retain the necessary skills to continue down the path of achievement can be fun—for both parents and kids alike!

Here are some summer enrichment activities and strategies you can begin implementing as soon as the final school bell rings to prevent summer learning loss from affecting your child’s academic performance:
1.     Reach Out to Your Child’s Teacher(s).
The first step in preventing summer learning loss is to talk to your child’s teacher(s). Find out which skills are necessary for your child to have in order to succeed academically during the following year. The teacher may also be able to give you insight into which areas your child in particular needs to work on in order to be proficient in the next grade level. You might also ask your child’s teacher to point you in the direction of useful resources and possibly summer enrichment activities and programs to enhance your summer learning efforts.

2.     Read.
We all know that one of the very best ways to learn is through reading. Luckily, summer offers hours and hours’ worth of potential reading opportunities. Encourage your child to read at least an hour each day by offering him reading material directly related to his interests. When choosing texts, be sure to pick titles that are appropriate to your child’s reading level.

You can further foster your child’s enthusiasm for literacy by engaging in summer enrichment activities that include reading. For instance, many public libraries host summer reading programs for young children. These programs often feature crafts, puppets, singing, and other such activities that help your child associate reading with having fun.

For older children, creating a book club is an excellent way to promote summer learning through reading. Your club can consist of just the two of you, or you may consider inviting neighbors or school friends to join in as well. Participating in discussions about reading materials can help your child learn to interpret and analyze texts, a necessary academic skill across the curriculum.

3.     Take Advantage of Teaching Moments.
Not all summer enrichment activities require careful planning. Some can be purely spontaneous. Learning opportunities are all around us, after all. Make an effort to turn ordinary experiences into teaching and learning opportunities. For instance, at the grocery store, you might ask your child to help you build a nutritious meal by including items from each of the food groups. While on vacation, invite your child to keep a journal of your adventures or pick a town that you visited and learn about its history. As you keep your child’s academic goals in mind throughout the summer, you’ll be surprised at how many summer learning opportunities arise on their own.

4.     Teach Time Management Through Chores.
Although time management isn’t an academic topic per se, it’s a necessary skill that will benefit your child in every subject and throughout his academic career and professional life. So use the summer as an opportunity to teach your child how to manage his/her time effectively. Start by creating a list of chores that need to be completed each week. Then, assist your child as he or she creates a chore calendar detailing which chores are to be done for each day of the week. Finally, make a daily schedule that includes the time of day your child will perform each chore. Ask your child to consider other summer enrichment activities you have planned when creating the calendar and schedule so that these activities don’t conflict with household chores. As your child follows the schedule each day, he or she will feel a sense of accomplishment while seeing the benefits of time management as well. As an added perk, you’ll have a cleaner house to enjoy all summer long!

5.     Participate in a Career Project
Time away from school and extracurricular responsibilities presents the perfect opportunity for your child to concentrate on his or her career goals. All children need someone to look up to for inspiration—what better kind of role model than one who is practicing in the field or industry your child is one day interested in pursuing? As part of your summer learning program, ask your child to select a successful professional who is currently working in this field to research. There are a variety of ways that your child can present his findings. For instance, you may encourage him to create and deliver a presentation to the family, create a website honoring the individual, or make a timeline of the person’s life. This summer enrichment activity will not only help your child hone his research skills, but he will be acquiring a special role model in the process. Even young children can participate in a career project. For instance, researching a ballerina and creating a storybook about her life would make for an enjoyable summer learning experience for your aspiring dancer.
When planning a summer learning program for your child, be sure to cater it around her interests and make it as much fun as possible! It shouldn’t feel like work; if it does, then your child will no doubt be reluctant to participate. It’s also important to leave plenty of time for rest and leisure as well, so that your child returns to school feeling reinvigorated and ready for another year of academic success.

About the Authors: Award-winning study and life skills experts Rick and Teena Kamal founded EduNova to prepare students to lead and thrive in the global economy. They worked with 33 top university education experts and many successful senior executives to produce resources that empower middle school, high school and college students to succeed. Learn more at www.HowToStudyBest.com


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