5 Things You Can Do This Summer to Prevent Summer Learning Loss
by Kris Quiaoit
Summer’s here! So what does this mean for your kids? Just because school is over, doesn’t mean learning has to be. In fact, students can suffer from summer learning loss. Studies have shown that students can lose 1 to 2 months worth of academic knowledge over the summer. And the rate is steeper for low-income students. Here are some ways you can prevent the summer brain drain and improve your kids’ brain gain:
1) Help Them Explore Their Interests
Summer is a perfect time for kids to learn more about something they might be interested in. If they like to doodle, go to a local art walk or museum. If they start to ask questions about how an electric car works, send them to science camp or help them create science experiments. If they start selling all sorts of things to their friends–candy, old cell phone cases, t-shirts with kittens on them–and you find a stash of cash in their drawer, enroll them in a youth entrepreneurship class. They might be the next Steve Jobs. Remember, with your children, the sky’s the limit. They just need to know which way is up.
2) Dedicate at Least 30 Minutes a Day to Reading and Writing
They might hate reading, and they might hate writing more. That’s the case with most students. In fact, only 20% of 8th graders in the U.S. read recreationally. Here are some of the reasons why students grow an aversion to reading and writing:
1) They are forced to read a lot of material they have no interest in. For some students, “literature” and “torture” are synonymous. Try reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations and you’ll understand.
2) If they are slow readers or are below average writers, they’re afraid of feeling judged. Slow. Stupid. There’s a lot of stigma and labels inappropriately attached.
3) They associate reading and writing with tests, homework, and something required. For 9 months out of the year, students are forced to read, write on what they read, test their comprehension, and repeat the process over and over. This can get very repetitive and boring.
Reading Transformation. Summer is a perfect time to transform their perception of reading from an obscure required skill into a way of understanding their world through text beyond their iphone. Here’s how you can facilitate a reading and writing transformation:
1) Help them choose reads they might be interested in. Help them make a list of books appropriate to their reading level, and have them choose a book. Having a choice is empowering, and empowerment and ownership of their learning experience go hand in hand. And it doesn’t have to be about reading books. Find out their interests and direct them to related online articles. If they enjoy skateboarding, have them read up on their favorite pro skater. If they enjoy fashion, have them read “How My Mom and I Communicate With Clothing.” Students will look for more opportunities to read if they are interested.
2) Encourage daily journaling. Writing is a way of articulating thoughts onto paper. Articulating ideas that readers can understand deeply is a skill. And with any skill, it takes practice. If your kids seems to gravitate towards a certain writer when they’re reading, encourage them to think about why that writer is so interesting and to copy that style. Once your kids write a piece, have them read it out loud and edit it. Students can learn some of their writing errors just by listening to what they are writing.
3) Let them read at their pace. It’s like swimming. Swimmers don’t win on rushed wild flailing, but on the precision of their technique. Quality reading is better than speed reading. It allows students to properly process the information and comprehend what’s actually being read.
3) Get a Tutor to Catch Up or Move Ahead.
If you want your kids to learn piano, you get a piano instructor. If you want them to perfect their tennis serve, you get a coach. If you want them to have a strong foundation in Algebra before the year starts, get a tutor. Great tutors understand the needs of each child. They assess the strengths and areas open for improvement and they help your child set learning goals and achieve them.
4) Play Thinking Games With Your Kids
Brain exercise isn’t limited to pen and paper. It’s important that your child has fun exercising their brain. It’s even more important that they share that experience with you. Here are some games you can play with your kids (some of these have variations for different age groups):
5) Don’t Over Do It
Parents want to help their children reach their potential. Many put their kids in rigorous academic programs to get a head start. While these parent have great intentions, there is such a thing as pushing too hard. What happens if you overtrain an athlete? Injury. What happens if you overwork a student? Burnout and boredom. Remember, your child is still a kid, still learning the world partially through play and their social groups. Give them that time to enjoy being a kid. Let them explore their world and learn life and social skills that books and classrooms can’t teach, and they’ll grow up to become more than just book smart.
What do you do to help your kids continue learning through summer?
About Kris Quiaoit