Judy Cohen; Learning Specialist
As we round the corner into spring, the end of another busy school year comes into view. How do you make sure that the hazy, lazy days of summer don’t turn into a time when those hard-earned skills and information slip away?
Of course, some regression is normal. But just as the amount of regression varies from child to child, so do the options for preventing that slippage! The first step is to speak with your child’s teacher to make sure you agree on which areas, if any, your child finds challenging. If your child is already struggling or has an IEP, he or she may be eligible for a formal summer session offered by your district, often known as Extended School Year (ESY). A more individualized approach would be an independent tutoring program or an individual tutor. Still another option would be to enroll your child in a camp with an academic focus, ensuring that the subject matter is approached in a fun, positive way.
If a less structured approach is warranted, check out the many online choices of educational apps, games, and programs. These fun options are especially useful to review already learned skills, such as math facts. To be useful however, an adult needs to monitor the activity to ensure it is done in a consistent and methodical way. For more skills practice, check out your local bookstore or teaching supply store to find an array of workbooks, some quite appealing, for your child’s use. Don’t forget the stickers!
No matter the approach you choose, consider looking for opportunities for learning in your everyday routines. Going to the grocery store provides an opportunity to learn new vocabulary (names of vegetables, cuts of meat), rounding and estimating costs, adding up the bill, or figuring the sales tax, depending on your child’s age. No matter the errand, you can incorporate time-telling skills: What time are we leaving? What time did we get home? How long were we gone? Opportunities for writing abound, from making shopping lists (bonus points for alphabetizing!) to writing an email to Grandma, to starting an illustrated journal. A family vacation provides opportunities to learn facts about geography, map reading, nature, and history, along with calculating miles per gallon and distances.
Of course, one of the best things you can do is to read, read, read! The slower summer months allow us to savor every word of a delicious story together. Make a weekly or bi-weekly trip to the library a habit, and ask your librarian for reading suggestions. Be sure to find out if your library has a summer reading program. And if your child does not already have a library card, now’s the time!