Long summer breaks are generally not in the best academic interest of our kids. Students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they did on the same test at the beginning of summer.
Most students lose two months in mathematical computational skills and reading comprehension — nearly 20 percent of what they learned before school ended.
The brain is a muscle that needs exercise, and basic math and reading skills need reinforcement. Young learners especially need lots and lots of repetition. Kids should read, write and compute every day they are out of school.
Here are some ideas:
- Keep a reading journal. All ages will benefit from writing about their reading. Start with a couple of summary statements — “This story was about … ” Then move into questions involving more reasoning skills — “I like this story (or character or idea) because … ” “If I were the character, I’d act differently because … ” “I think such and such is going to happen because … ”
- Practice match facts using dice or cards.
- Play games such as Scrabble, Brain Quest, Boggle, Yahtzee, and Uno that help students with word and sentence recognition and math skills.
- Read to your kids; have them read to you. When your students read to you, make sure the level of difficulty is comfortable so they don’t experience frustration. When you read to them, jump a level or two to build their oral vocabulary and use of context clues.
- Read together as a family.
- If you are going on a trip or doing lots of different activities (hiking, camping, boating), have your student write about the activities — reactions, what they liked and didn’t like, how it affected them, if they’ll do it again.
- Have your children use an atlas to plan a trip, compute gasoline and lodging costs, determine meal stops and select sightseeing opportunities.
- There are workbooks called “Bridge Books” that have activities in all subject areas designed specifically to maintain and build skills during the summer. They are published by grade level, so look at end of the year testing and other information from the teacher to determine which grade level to use.
Get past the myth that summer is a time for brains to go on vacation. Establish the reading-learning-thinking habit and reinforce it all the time, not just during the school year.
Wenatchee resident Nancy Coolidge is a classroom teacher, radio personality and director of several Sylvan Learning Centers. You can ask her a question by posting a comment on her Good Habits, Great Grades blog at wenatcheeworld.com or by emailing goodhabits firstname.lastname@example.org.