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Sunday, August 14, 2016

keeping up with summer learning

Summer is a time for fun in the sun! I love that part about summer. But now that I have a kiddo in elementary school (and because I know how important it is from working in a school myself) I realize  that we need to keep some learning happening in these awesome summer months.

There is a thing the educators refer to as the "summer slide." It's proven that kids LOSE what they learned from last year in school if you don't keep them reading, writing, doing math, and overall learning in the summer. They can slide back a few reading levels. It's not fair! What works is just keeping them active in the routine of doing some school type work. It doesn't even have to be tons, but keeping them practicing what they learned and pushing a little forward helps keep them ready and active for the fall when they need to be ON for hours a day.

Here are some ideas for helping your little one continue with learning in the summer months:

  • READ READ READ- There are a thousand ways to get reading in during the summer time. A few ideas:
    • Sign up for the Barnes and Noble reading program (they read 5 books, write down the titles, visit the store to pick out a NEW book for FREE)! Easy and good incentive.
    • Sign up for your local library's summer reading program. My kids do this every summer, for FREE. It's so easy and they love it. They earn prizes weekly for reading in the summer. They earned free Subway food gift cards and Sea Dogs baseball game tickets, too. Check it out! 
    • Attend summer reading programs at the library. They always have reading story hours that are short, sweet and interactive and count as reading for your kiddos. 
    • Pick out books at the library. 
    • Visit book stores. 
    • Attend used book sales at libraries- just about every library around does this, and it's SO fun to see your kiddo getting excited about picking out a new book.
    • Make up stories together at night before bed - you start the story and have your child add to it. It's like reading. 
    • Go back through your book shelf. Pick out favorite books and books to donate, but read them all before they head out. 
    • I saved all the little paper books my son's Kindergarten teacher sent home this spring so we could re-read them in the summer. I'm so glad I thought to do this in May so we'd have some to keep around, at my son's level. It's been GREAT practice. 
    • Find words when you're out and about- at the store, driving (Stop signs, etc.), at the movies, etc. Ask your child to spell them out and talk about them. 
    • Give them books to occupy them on long car rides.
    • Get some Apps for those iPads that help them with reading and figuring out letters. 
    • Give them new magnetic alphabet letters to work with on the fridge while you're cooking.
    • Measure things when cooking.
    • Count cucumbers at the farm stand
    • Line up rocks and toss them in the water while counting. 
    • When driving ask your kids to count to 10, 20, 100.
    • Get flash cards to count items. 
    • Count using Legos.
  • RESOURCES - Target dollar bin has tons of workbooks that I've used the last few summers. They have great pages that help my son do writing, reading, math numbers, etc. And I'm not a teacher, so these help me in knowing what he should be doing. There are great flash cards to make it more like a game. There are white boards to give them a more creative way of learning to write letters or do math. Dollar Tree has great workbooks also. 
  • ROUTINE & FLEXIBILITY - It's helped us to try to do it routinely as part of our morning time. I don't do it daily, but strive to during the week. We eat breakfast, brush teeth, then sit back down for a short time of school work (no more than 30 minutes is what I can get out of a 4 and 6 year old, and the 4 year old it's really just for fun to do what her brother is doing, tracing letters, etc.). It's easy for them to expect it if it's the same type of time/routine each time you do it. But also have flexibility. There are mornings where we're heading to the beach and I'm making lunches and we're crunched for time to go do something fun, so it's all good to skip it. Just try to do it more than you don't do it. 
  • OUTSIDE LEARNING- Remember the BEST learning happens out of the house or classroom - where they are LEARNING real things they will use. Remember to go for hikes or nature walks, do experiments or let them explore new areas, learn to swim or bike or build something outside. My son is all into catching bugs this summer. So we could then go to the library and get books about bugs to make it interesting. It doesn't all have to be pen and paper. 

The biggest suggestion I have heard is DON'T get too into the summer school work and learning that you forget that you're supposed to give the kids a break in the summer. They need time off, so do you, and that's GOOD and OK. Just remember to keep some learning happening so that they don't get totally off the school track.

I've noticed even more things beyond math and reading skills happening with my son this summer. For him, it's about reminding him how to sit still at the table, listen to directions, pay attention to something kinda boring for a while, and to keep trying even when he doesn't get it... all skills he'll use on day one in first grade this fall. It's about patience and working hard, responsibility and growing.

So getting them in the routine of working hard this summer to keep it up from what the teachers did so well last year, it's a great way to set them up for the fall's learning that will happen.

Happy learning!

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