Education experts have known for some time that children who don't go to school throughout the year can experience learning loss when the summertime hits. Still, most schools and districts have yet to extend the school year in light of this information.
Statistics on summer learning loss vary depending on the study. But those studies most commonly cited have found that kids lose, on average, 2.6 months of math and two months of reading skills over the summer. Other studies, as reported in Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it? by David M. Quinn and Morgan Polikoff, have found varying results. But most notably, those in lower-income families tend to have greater learning loss during the summer than kids from higher-income families. Experts believe that this is largely attributed to the lack of resources available to lower-income families and in poorer communities.
The good news, however, is that there are ways to reduce your child's summer learning loss.
You can help your kids by providing them with plenty of educational and enrichment opportunities throughout the summer months ahead. The following fun activities will keep your kids' brains active. These activities will also help kids retain what they learned throughout the school year or even expand upon on it.
Keep 'em reading.
Public libraries offer an array of summer programs for kids. Take your kids to the library often for special programs. Also, have them bring home a selection of books to read during the summer.
Play word, money, number, and logic games with them.
Look for board, video, and computer games, particularly those that have won educational awards. Also, search online for ideas for boardless games that don't require materials. Another idea is to turn it into an art activity. Have your kids create their own board game to play.
Incorporate learning into your travel.
Before you go on your family vacation, do some advance research. Look for science centers, history museums, and historical sites to build into your trip. Then, have your kids join you in mapping out the trip. This will help keep geography fresh in their minds while also learning map skills.
Do some journaling.
Give your kid a journal to write in. It can be fancy or just a spiral notebook. If your child hasn't kept a journal before, suggest she spend 20 minutes writing in it every night about her day's adventures and activities. Let your child know that it's her private journal, and you should promise her that you will not read it unless she chooses to share it with you. This might encourage your child to invest more time and thought into her journaling.
Get messy with science.
If there's anything kids love, it's making a mess, and summer is the perfect time for messy science experiments. Pick up a kids' science experiments book from your library. Then, have your child read through and choose some experiments to do. Your children will learn a lot just from reading about the different experiments. Then, they'll have a blast pulling the experiments off.
Attend summer camp.
Look for a summer camp that has a strong emphasis on learning activities. The summer camp could be one that offers an array of activities that support a variety of subjects. There are also many summer camps with a special focus. Your child could choose one in an area she excels or has a particular interest in. Or, you could help your child choose one in an area of difficulty that will help her to better grasp a specific subject.
Get baking and cooking in the kitchen.
Baking and cooking helps kids in both math and science. Have your kids choose a recipe they would like to make. But, instead, have them make half a batch or triple the batch. This will require them to calculate the measurements, and all of you will have a delicious snack to enjoy together afterward.
Form a neighborhood or friends book club with their friends.
This can be done a couple of different ways, depending on the age of your kids. Kids of similar ages can choose one book to read each week. Then, they can meet to talk about the book they read. They can discuss the plot and characters, what they liked about it, didn't like, and their take away from it.
Another type of book club, especially for younger kids, will require more parent involvement. Create a logging system so each child can keep a record of the books they've read. At the end of the summer, hold a pizza party for all of the participants. Create homemade certificates and give out inexpensive prizes to all the participants. Then, honor the winner with a special prize.
Do workbooks or puzzle books.
Give your child a workbook for the grade your child just finished in school. Have your child work on it throughout the course of the summer to keep what she learned fresh in her mind. Another fun option is puzzle books. You can find puzzle books in most subject areas. There are mathematical, logic, word search, and crossword puzzle books. ■