Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Summer Learning: 5 Tips to Prevent Reading and Math Summer Slide

Summer break is starting to wind down, back to school items are on store shelves, our kids haven't seen the inside of a classroom in weeks, and those of us who haven't maintained bedtime routines have to get back on schedule.  While our schedules may be off a bit, one thing that doesn't have to turn off or shut down is LEARNINGRecently, I wrote about modifying the school calendar to prevent summer learning loss, commonly known as summer slide. As a parent and former middle school teacher, the term summer slide was foreign to me until I taught elementary and learn how the summer months negatively impacted our population of students. While the summer can have a negative effect on some students' ability to retain information, the matter is not hopeless.

Good News

It's never too late to learn.

As parents, we have an opportunity to expose our children to fun and creative learning experiences during the summer that are not always present during the hustle and bustle of the school year.

Honestly, taking the time shortly before school starts to stimulate your child's mind and refresh their memory is not such a bad idea.

So here are a few tips that you can use not only during the summer but throughout the year:

1. Read, Read, Read 

This goes without saying, but kids need to READ EVERY SINGLE DAY to improve reading proficiency and academic performance

Source: 2008 Scientific Learning Reading Assistant
Based on research, it is recommended that children read for a minimum of 20 minutes per day. Depending on your child's reading ability, you may read to your child the entire time, or you and your child take turns reading pages (either every other page, child reads 3 pages you read 1, alternate reading for a set amount of time). Reading aloud benefits students regardless of their age because it enhances their listening comprehension skills, verbal fluency, and use of oral language. These skills will help them when they read independently.

Aside from reading 20 minutes a day have your child read something every day. You can extend reading by incorporating activities when you're away from home such as reading a billboard or advertisements and discuss the message they're trying to convey, read a magazine or newspaper (find age appropriate news articles), or a restaurant menu. The point is, there are endless opportunities to read something.

2. Read a Math Story

Combine math and reading with engaging books that have math problems embedded in the story. It's such an easy way to improve literacy and numeracy skills. ordered the following books when I taught 6th grade, and my students loved them. Now they're part of our collection at home.

3. Play a Game

Go old school and play non-electronic games. Break out Monopoly, dominoes, checkers, chess, backgammon, Yahtzee, Othello, and other board games. Get a deck of playing cards and play Go Fish, Spades, 21 (Blackjack), War (addition and multiplication), Concentration. Here's a list of math card games

4. Take a Trip

Go on a vacation or a staycation, and do the things that tourists do. Visit a museum, zoo, library, aquarium, or visit a few cultural sites that the city is known for. A few months ago, I participated in a scavenger hunt with a few of my friends and learned so much about the history of our city. Definitely be a tourist in your own city and venture to communities that you normally wouldn't frequent to learn about the history of that area. Oh, and some museums offer audio tours or interactive activities for kids to make the trip more engaging. 

Lost Oak Winery in Burleson, TX

5. Get in the Kitchen

A family that cooks together stays together. Maybe not, but it makes for good family time. This is the place where you can get down and dirty. Algebra and measurement (customary/metric system) are typically the skills that students struggle with the most. Outside of actually working on DIY projects, the kitchen is where kids can put their reading and math skills to use. Here, they'll gain a better understanding of fractions, converting measurements, and the difference between measuring liquids and dry ingredients. 

You can also search for fun, kid-friendly activities online. In the picture below, my children are creating geometric shapes using marshmallows and pretzels sticks. The terms sides, vertices, and faces were a refresher for my son and a new learning experience for my daughter.

The bottom line is to keep children's mind engaged during the summer by encouraging them to read and continue learning. Practice makes perfect. There are so many other activities that you can incorporate at home. I simply provided a few, and children will retain the information and have a successful start to the school year if they continue to learn over the summer. 

What activities have you used to encourage learning throughout the summer?

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