The last day of school is an event every kid (and many parents) can hardly wait for – finally a break from the tests, homework and projects that dominate our daily schedules. Unfortunately, viewing summer vacation as a complete respite from academia can result in significant catch up work when the next school year begins. Having so much time outside the classroom can chip away at the skills kids have worked so hard to build all year long. What can parents do to help their student hit the ground running in the fall?
Math and reading, two of the foundational skills to any education, are often the first to dissipate over summer break, with low-income youth at even greater risk for losing critical academic progress according to a study by the Progress of Education Reform. “Every parent wants to see their child do well in school, and summer plays an important role in boosting achievement year-round,” says Katie Willse, Chief Program Officer at the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA). “Students can lose up to two months of essential math and reading skills during the summer months, but there is plenty families and caregivers can do to support learning during the summer.”
The need to read
“Reading is important for all ages, but is especially critical for early learners leading up to fourth grade,” says Willse. Finding time to incorporate some reading time on a regular basis over the summer is vital to maintaining reading comprehension and building vocabulary.
Taking advantage of all your local library has to offer is a great place to start. Kathleen Moore, an early literacy specialist with Dayton Metro Library, says their Summer Challenge programs encourage young readers by offering a variety of educational, hands-on activities to keep kids learning all summer.
Count on math practice
Incorporating math practice into your child’s daily schedule may be a little more difficult than doing the same for reading skills, but is just as important. Web sites such as CoolMath.com and CoolMath4Kids.com offer one way to have children polish their math skills with fun activities. If a child struggled in his or her math classes during the school year, investing in private tutoring lessons over the summer may be a wise investment. The Mathnasium of Centerville offers programs for kids from elementary school through high school using a method that focuses on the needs and level of each child. Assessments at the beginning and throughout the process keep tabs on a student’s progress.
The Dayton Metro Library offers the Preschool Math Club. “The Math Club uses games, manipulatives and stories to increase early math literacy,” says Moore. “There are literally hundreds of library activities for children, from toddlers through high schoolers, all designed to make learning fun.”
Everyday skill boosters
Parents and caregivers can help students keep their math and reading abilities sharp by providing everyday opportunities to use them. A trip to the grocery store can involve counting, sorting and calculations with money. Keeping a journal or scrapbook about summer vacation promotes writing. Reading a book and comparing it to its film version encourages critical thinking. By finding creative ways for your children to practice these skills in their daily life, and taking advantage of educational programs offered in your community, you can avoid a lapse in learning and give your kids the tools to begin their next school year with confidence.