Summer’s finally here, and that means kids across the nation get a much-needed break from the rigors and stressors that come with being at school every day. But as important as it is for children to recharge, summer break can also set them back in their studies.
Experts say, on average, nearly two months of reading skills go down the drain over summer break. And about 2 ½ months of math skills suffer the same fate. Factor in multiple summers year after year, and all that lost knowledge becomes significant, especially by the time a child is in high school. New research even suggests that summer learning loss actually increases as a child gets older.
But it doesn’t have to be so. In most cases, experts say, kids can retain those skills over the summer with just two to three hours a week dedicated to learning. Let’s look at a few tips to help them do just that.
- Get them to the library on a regular basis. Most libraries have summer reading programs and clubs and can be a huge help in picking out books for your youngster and helping him or her reach certain reading goals.
- Connect books to places and things. This is a great way to bring stories and concepts to life and make them seem more a part of the real world. Plan day trips or vacations that you can connect to the topics and characters your child is reading about. And then talk about those connections.
- Be a reading role model. Show your kids—especially if they’re younger children—that you practice what you preach. They’ll want to be like you, to some degree or another. So let them see that reading is a normal part of what people do in daily life.
- Have them write a little each day in a journal. This isn’t too labor intensive—it’s summer break, after all. But it’ll keep them thinking about how to express themselves through words. They can write about their day, dreams or—better yet—what they’re reading about.
- Find your child a pen pal, perhaps through the kids of an old high school friend or an international service such as Global Penfriends. This is an excellent way to get children writing to each other. You can do it electronically or the old-fashioned way with handwritten letters, stamps and envelopes. Kids love to get stuff in the mail.
- Challenge them to learn to type—or to get better at it. Lots of kids are proficient using two fingers to send text messages, but few know how to touch type without looking at the keyboard. It’s a valuable skill, and in the course of practicing, they’ll be writing, too. There are lots of free online resources to help—TypingClub is one example.
- If you or someone in your household does a fair bit of cooking, let your child help out. It can be quite the math exercise. Measuring ingredients, temperature and time are all good ways to hone math skills.
- Play lots of games that use math. Card games such as Uno and Crazy Eights and Dominoes are easy and entertaining ways to stay engaged with numbers. And there are lots of math game resources online, too. Math Playground is a fun one.
- Show your child how to start a budget. Whether they’re teens with part-time jobs or kindergartners with an allowance, creating and following a budget is an important way to reinforce math concepts. And learning to manage their money will help them out as adults.
At Infinite Energy, we’re committed to helping support childhood education. We hope these short tips help keep your kid learning all summer long.