Studies have shown that children can lose between 10 and 25% of their reading skills over the course of the summer. This is directly due to the lack of work, skills, or drills in which the student should be engaged over the break from school. This manifests itself in a very slow start in the fall and difficulty with coursework when school resumes. Additionally, a child's ability to write effectively is hindered because the writing process has not continued over the summer. Below are several ideas to help your child maintain and improve his or her abilities over the summer months.
1. READ, READ, READ. Reading is without a doubt the most important facet to a child's education regardless of age or grade in school. Even math tests are becoming more challenging as word problems are nearly impossible to answer correctly without an understanding of the task at hand. Although many schools have summer reading assignments, more often than not a child sees this as a punishment since the book was chosen for them and not by them. Most students read the summer book assigned three to four days before school begins in September. I suggest purchasing a $15 gift card from the local bookstore and allowing children to choose ANY book they feel like reading. (Of course, it must be appropriate) This does NOT have to be a book that they will be reading for school. It will have extra meaning for them since it will be a book that they have chosen without parental or teacher input.
2. Write, Write, Write. Journals or diaries are an excellent way to keep students in the "school mode". While reading is important, writing and reading work in concert and you really can't have one without the other. Children will not want to do long writing assignments but journals based on what they read and how they feel about the readings can be brief and assist them in moving forward once school begins.
3. Fun Study Groups: Kids get together all the time to play video games, watch movies, and just plain "hang out". An exciting book or magazine article that all have read can spark some additional interest. This is a bit more difficult because it does require some parent input. You might want to find an article on the internet about a video game the kids play and challenge them to create a test for you based on that article. This way, you have to read the article as well. The culmination is to see if they can stump you on a question. Bet them a trip to their favorite ice-cream store once they have completed their test regardless of how well you do on the exam. (Pizza works too!)
4. Movie Reviews. Take your child and a friend to the movies and offer to buy EXTRA surprises at the candy counter if they promise to write a movie review afterwards.
5. Letters. The arrival of computers and improved technology has been a double-edged sword in society. Our children rely on spell check and other such programs to provide them with a product that is well written. Have them write to their grandparents via "snail mail" and NOT e-mail in order to continuously maintain and sharpen their skills.
While it is difficult to have children complete arduous assignments over the summer, it is important and necessary to engage them in activities that will keep their brains active. This will make the transition from one school year to the next more positive for them on a variety of levels. Let's turn the summer brain drain into the summer BRAIN GAIN!
Be well. Live with Purpose.
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