This is an exciting time for lots of parents and students around the country. Some students will complete pre-K/Kindergarten and enter elementary school. Others will finish elementary school and begin middle school. Another group will finish middle school and enter high school. Regardless of whether there is a major shift from high school to college or intermediate step that involves advancing from 3rd to 4th grade, the end of the school year is both symbolic and tangible of an ending and a beginning. This simultaneous view of both the past and the future will often get us thinking about how to prepare our children for what’s next. Whether it’s a new grade or a new school, we want to take the time to be thoughtful about making sure we use the summer months wisely so that our kids can achieve their full potential.
1. Let the kids relax – While it might be tempting to push right into summer camps and supplemental activities, the kids have worked hard for the past 9 months and they deserve a bit of a break. Not all important learning is purely academic. One of the best lessons you can teach your children is that working hard and achieving goals are important. What comes along with doing a task well is being able to enjoy a bit of down time.
2. Connect the dots – Often in schools, kids are exposed to lots of different subjects. From reading and writing to math and science, schools are focused on providing every ounce of foundational knowledge. However, one of the best things we can do for our children is to help them connect the dots between what they are taught in school and the real world applications. So, take them for a walk around your neighborhood or nearest metropolitan area and point out that homes and buildings are designed by architects who must excel in mathematics.
3. Discover new topics – Ask any adult that frequently interacts with children and they will tell you, kids ask a lot of questions. They use this process to develop their individual world view. Instructors love this curiosity and often will look for opportunities to pair these queries with core learnings - teachable moments. Because of the wide variety of activities and the amount of time spent with your child in a number of different environments, parents often have an abundance of opportunities to experience and cultivate teachable moments. Whether, it’s taking a different route home to stimulate a discussion due to all the new things she might see or traveling to another part of the world to expose her to different cultures; these experiences will begin to build up a pool of knowledge and create within the child a framework for quickly learning about new topics by asking the right questions.
4. Difficult challenges – As parents, we will do anything to ensure our children are happy and well-adjusted. This often involves helping through the difficult challenges so they don’t get frustrated or lose confidence in their abilities. However, one of the most important life skills is to have your children develop resilience to failure. Kids that have never been pushed beyond their comfort zone often don’t have the reservoir of experience to know that failure isn’t permanent or fatal. In fact, it often opens the door to how they might approach solution development from a different perspective going forward. So, as often as possible, find opportunities to give your child tasks or activities that they might fail at in the near term with an eye toward setting them up for long-term success.
5. READ-READ-READ – There are so many books, magazines, research papers websites, blogs and newspapers that are overflowing with useful information. A trip or two to the local public library each week will enable your child to learn about so many subjects. It will also continue to open up their eyes to the amazing things that are all around us. Whether reading about the culture of another country or the latest technology advances in medicine or how to invest in stocks, ‘take a look, it’s in a book’ – Reading Rainbow.
As parents, what are some of the strategies you have used to prevent summer learning loss for your kids?