It's summer break, which means relaxing, recharging and plenty of fun for students. Even though your child is probably eager to toss the backpack into a closet until September, Eileen Huntington of Huntington Learning Center encourages parents to develop a summer learning schedule that will deter regression (learning loss), and maintain a schedule.
"There are many advantages to incorporating a little structure into your child's summer schedule," says Huntington. "Children who continue to exercise their brains have a far easier time going back to school in the fall, plus, keeping the mind active during break can remind children about the fun of learning.
First, take a break. Before you get out the calendar and schedule each week with educational activities, plan to take a week or two off completely. Enjoy some family time, head to the pool and allow your child to truly decompress from the school year. It's fine to talk about ideas for summer learning opportunities, but be sure to let your child enjoy some down time.
Set aside time for daily reading. Summer is a wonderful time for children to explore their curiosities through reading. Load up on books that interest your child. Be flexible about the type of materials your child chooses, but make it a summer rule that your child reads for 30 minutes a day. Incorporate a weekly library trip into your summer schedule.
Pick weekly themes. Engage your child in learning by choosing weekly themes. What kinds of themes? Anything! Africa, the seasons, the zoo, mystery, inventors or insects, to name a few. Weekly learning themes work best for younger children, but you can certainly adapt them for older, more independent students as well. Each week, plan a simple outing, a craft, a writing activity and a math assignment.
Review last year's work. Studies show that many students' math skills take a nose dive during summer break. One of the easiest ways to stay fresh on the math skills is to review some of the previous year's assignments or tests. If you haven't saved paperwork throughout the year, ask your child's teacher for copies of assignments covered throughout the year. If you purchased a math book, review sections each week together.
Set goals and milestones. Sit down at the beginning of summer and talk with your child about his or her goals. Perhaps your child just wants to learn to enjoy reading. Maybe your child could improve in math. Choose an area of focus (or several) and discuss where your child would like to be by summer's end. For reading, lean on the help of a summer reading program put on by your school, library or local bookstore.
Summertime is a perfect opportunity for your child to explore some interests while keeping the mind active. "You can make an enormous difference by developing a simple summer learning schedule with tasks and goals for each week," says Huntington.