Summer is here, and your kids are loving the break. Meanwhile you may already be counting down the days until they return to school. We all love summer because it signals a much needed break--a break from traffic, a break from all of the many school-time activities, and a break from being on the go.
All of these things are needed for both us and our kids, however the summer shouldn’t be a break from learning. Learning should be a lifelong pursuit. It doesn’t and shouldn’t only take place inside of a classroom.
Research has shown that children lose about 2.6 months of math skills during the summer break and low-income children lose anywhere from 2-3 months in reading skills.
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9 out of 10 teachers spend 3-4 weeks reteaching “last year’s” material to deal with this loss. This phenomenon is known as the summer learning loss. Sending your kids to a summer learning program is one way to prevent summer learning loss, but what if that isn’t an option for you or an ideal choice? Wouldn’t you like some other summer learning loss solutions?
Here are three easy tips to provide summer learning opportunities for kids.
#1 Host a reading book club for your kids
Earlier in the year I wrote an article on how to start a book club with your kids. You should definitely check that out for more details.
Read The Secret to Getting Your Kids Reading
The book club many advantages. It engages your kids with reading, which will help nullify the reading skills loss, but it also helps you connect with your kids as you read with them. My kids have enjoyed our book clubs, and we have read a number of books together. They love discussing the books and analyzing plot and characters.
Participating in the book club with your kids will encourage them to willingly read everyday especially if the book club meetings take place at a favorite spot like the ice cream store! Invite their friends to join to make the club even more engaging.
#2 Watch fun educational shows with your kids and discuss it with them
Too much screen time in the summer may be a contributing factor for the summer learning loss. However, television can provide great learning and bonding opportunities.
For example, I watch the Science Channel’s How the Universe Works with my daughters.
Typically, I tune into the show because I enjoy learning about the cosmos, but my girls will hear that I’m watching and come join me. I’ve learned that the reason for this is because we don’t just watch the show we interact with one another. They ask questions, and I pause the episode to answer. Other times I pause the show to ask them questions such as “Why do you think…?” “What would happen if…?” or “Do your understand why…?”
The program that you watch doesn’t always have to be scientific. There are a number of programs that you can watch with your kids that will provide learning opportunities. The key is how you watch it.
Be intentional. Allow them the opportunity to use their critical thinking skills by asking them to make predictions or conjectures. Give them the chance to engage with you and the content.
#3 Engage your kids in summer learning activities
Take your kids to museums. Take them to the library. Conduct STEM experiments in the park with them.
Keeping with the astronomy theme and the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I took my girls to the Cradle of Aviation Air & Space Museum. This provided them with the opportunity to see up close some of the things that we had discussed at home while watching television. They asked questions and got to explain what they knew to the museum employees.
Kids are naturally curious and open to learning new and different things, when given the opportunity. Engage with your kids in these learning activities.
There’s that word again. It keeps coming up because it truly is the key. When your kids see you learning and being curious, it will make them want to. If you need ideas for learning activities Pinterest is a great place to start. Be sure to follow me on Pinterest as I have a Learning Mindset board.
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Bonus Tip: Play mentally engaging games with your kids
This one is less academic than the others, but still can have the same cognitive effect.
Personally, I love to play games, and couldn’t wait for my daughters to have the cognitive abilities to play. There are so many games that you can play with your kids that will encourage them to think, analyze, predict, plan and see patterns. Some examples are checkers, chess, Connect 4, Monopoly,various card games. All of these, aforementioned, behaviors are mathematically related.
Most people think that they’re not doing math unless there are numbers involved. Fortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Mathematicians and scientists are strategic thinkers, who study patterns, hypothesize or make conjectures. They predict future outcomes and test their theories. All of these skills can be learned through game play.
Connect 4 is a perfect example. My youngest and I play this game constantly, because she is determined to out think me one day. I see her analyzing my moves and wondering why I make the plays that I make. I’m quite sure she will beat me one day, because she continually tests out new strategies that make me have to think deeply about my next move.
Remember learning doesn’t just take place in the classroom. Engage with your kids to help keep their young minds learning, and you will be able to fight off the summer learning loss.
That’s Cynthia’s mindset on 3 Easy Tips to Keep Your Kids Learning this Summer
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I'm passionate about learning and helping our kids foster a learner's mindset. Empowering you with the resources you need is my goal. It's all about learning here!