Summer vacation is a welcome reprieve from the busy days of the school year, but for many parents, it can bring up concerns about their children losing skills and falling behind. Luckily, there are a number of things parents can do to help students retain knowledge while they’re not in school. “Summer learning activities do not have to be rigorous or mimic classroom learning to be effective,” says Eileen Huntington, Co-Founder of the Huntington Learning Center. “With a little planning and creativity, parents can offer their children a variety of fun learning experiences that will help them stay fresh.” Huntington offers these ideas to avoid summertime learning loss:
Review last year. Review assignments your child worked on throughout the school year and make a nightly, 15-minute homework session a part of your summer routine. Activities such as flash cards, times tables and spelling word practice are great to do each night to retain concepts and skills from the previous year.
Read, read, read. This summer, help your child learn to love reading for fun. Go to the library every week and let your child pick out books, magazines or other reading materials. As a family, set aside 30 minutes after dinner each night for everyone to settle down with your books. Explore your library’s programs for kids, too.
And write, write, write. Summer is a perfect time to develop a regular writing habit. If your child struggles with writing, make it fun. Keep a family journal of everything you’ve done this summer. Write letters to the grandparents every week. Have your child help you make lists. And if your child is the creative type, encourage him or her to write stories or poems and even submit them to print or online magazines that publish children’s work.
Bridge the gap. Consider investing in workbooks specifically designed to bridge learning between grades. There are a wide variety of workbooks available that can be purchased online or at bookstores. Most of the workbooks provide pages of activities for each week of summer, including skill activities in reading, writing, math, language arts, science and geography.
Check out camps and classes. Your local rec center, art museum, history museum, nature and science museum, cultural center and zoo are all great places to look for classes, camps or other programs for children on summer break. You could also check out day or overnight educational camps in your area or around the country.
“The reality is that many students lose some of what they learn each grade during the months they are not in school,” Huntington says. “But with a small amount of effort, you can help your child stay sharp, retain knowledge and be better prepared for the next grade.”