Successful Summer into Smart Startup of School

This week on wEDnesday: Successful Summer into Smart Startup of School

Parents, Tag! You’re It! Love, Teachers!

We have all seen that sign floating around on social media, and it’s hilarious! Until you go home and realize you have months with your children who have just had a busy school year, and want to know what exactly to do with them!

Why is learning over the summer important? Summer learning loss or summer slide is the difference between a child’s achievement in the spring and their achievement in the fall, following summer break. Students who do not continue their education over the summer tend to have significant gaps, when compared with their peers who participated in programs and lessons over the summer months. There is great benefit in your child keeping up their learning fun over the summer, while still having an amazing summer full of sun!

How do you keep the momentum going from their learning gains or even catch up with concepts that challenged them during the school year? How do you make it fun and engaging?

Check out these three tips to make the best of summertime fun, learning, and family time!

Prepare for Success

Start with the first thing first, the summer calendar. If you know me, you know I love a good calendar, color-coded highlighters, and even stickers for special events!

No, you don’t have to get all nuts like that, but do look at your summer’s overall schedule. Fill in family vacations, or intended vacation times, out-of-town visitors, and any other plans that are already set. Even fill in the first day of school into your calendar so that you can see exactly how much time you’re working with this year.

The families I’m working with this summer have ten weeks of summer. We marked out vacation times, camps that the children are in, and a few other important events. We’re now down to seven weeks. For lesson planning, that’s great to know what our time will look like together!

Next, think about what your goals are for the summer. Do you want your child to increase reading comprehension, master multiplication facts, or improve research writing? The activities you search for and spend your time in this summer will depend on the goals you have for your kids.

Finally, prepare a basic outline of a schedule for your children when they’re at home. Vacation timing is different, so just set an outline of times and tasks for when everyone is home. Build in free, unorganized time for the kids to decompress, get creative, and pursue their passions, or video games, either one! A basic outline is basically a way to chunk out the time so that you build in learning time alongside favorite summer activities.

Read, Read, Read!

Reading benefits children in every academic subject and social emotional category. Starting a summertime reading pattern or a new tradition will help your child not only improve their reading skills, but their math, science, social studies, etc…

Make reading a fun part of family time, NOT an extension of a reading log. Don’t turn reading into a chore or job, it is a beautiful way for all of us to learn and bond together. Choose comfy places to read, maybe have a little snack together, pick out books together, read in different ways (aloud to each other, silently when everyone reads at the same time, even the adults, children read to pets, facetime a parent or relative that is out-of-town and read to them, choose picture books even for older grades, choose chapter books even for younger kids). There is always appropriate reading material to read together, discuss, and share!

Think about the book clubs we attend as adults, well minus the wine. We ask questions, we discuss what the book reminded us of, how a certain scene makes us feel, we answer questions from the author. We share a collective experience of reading and responding to literature. Reading with kids over summer is the same. Look for connections, ways to relate the book to experiences or media, wonder aloud, talk about the pictures in your head that the book creates, and more. Don’t be nervous or worried, just relax and read with your kids!

Individual Plans and Activities
The lessons, plans, and activities of which your child would most benefit will depend on your child and your goals. Most communities have some excellent resources, many of them free for the summer. Places to start for great activities for your children are;

-libraries; don’t just limit yourself to the closest one, most library cards are good for the entire county, so branch out and try as many new libraries as possible

-your child’s school and teacher, your child’s teacher may have easy-to-access materials ready to send home, and their school may have some summer camps available

-zoos are great places for fun, out-of-the-box learning

-community colleges in your area may have camps or other lessons run by students

-city parks and recreation departments often have great programming for children

-consider a tutor to come in and help your child with specific skills, many teachers even tutor over the summer

-a common term for lessons to help children transition from one grade to the next (especially in elementary) are ‘bridge lessons,’ so you can look up lessons to bridge from your child’s current grade to the one they’re entering in the fall

However your summer looks, make sure to enjoy some sunny and flexible time together as a family! Questions welcome, have a great summer!

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