It’s THAT time of year again: SUMMER BREAK!!! I don’t know about you, but THIS Mom is tired and looking forward to a few months with no mandatory homework, reports with deadlines, overwhelming reading assignments and a never ending line of tests to study for! It’s time for a break from the hustle and bustle, the rush to get one thing done…only to have 5 more things to do.
Moms and Dads, I encourage you and your children to TAKE A BREAK during the Summer! Enjoy family time! Talk and play games with your children! Take a VA-cation or a STAY-cation, and appreciate time together! Tell stories, watch movies, enjoy your favorite indoor and outdoor activities! LISTEN to your children as they talk and play, and ENCOURAGE them to dream and set goals.
However, Summer Break from school should NOT be a 2-3 month break from everything your children learned during the School Year. Children NEED continued exposure to learning and education throughout their lives every day, ESPECIALLY daily exposure to READING AND MATH. Why? Because Reading and Math are utilized in some fashion each day throughout our lives.
Along with taking a break and having fun, I encourage EVERY parent to have a schedule and weekly routine for Summer LEARNING. It does not have to be 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with 1-3 hours of homework, but I encourage parents to have a schedule through the summer for their children to review and refresh their skills and keep previously learned concepts from fading. The BEST route to successful learning and retention is REPITITION and UTILIZATION.
One of the ways our brain works is that the more we SEE and USE information, the better we REMEMBER and UNDERSTAND it. SO…if your child struggles with reading, the best way to get better is to PRACTICE READING. If your child struggles with math, the best way to improve speed and accuracy is to PRACTICE MATH. Summer Break is an excellent time to BUILD skills, but if your children don’t USE the skills, they are more likely to LOOSE them.
HOW should we continue learning over summer break? There are MANY options, and I encourage a combination of paper, electronic (on-line) and interactive methods. Here are just a few options:
- There are MANY books you can purchase that have worksheets ready-to-use and a schedule already written for you to follow during the summer. My personal favorite is the “Summer Bridge” books, which incorporate math, language, reading lists and science experiments.
- Several websites have printable math and reading comprehension pages – type in your child’s grade (the grade they just completed) along with “free printable worksheets.”
- There are also several FREE websites dedicated to grade-specific learning games and videos. Here are a few:
- PBS Kids.org
- FunBrain.com and FunBrainJr.com
There are also websites and apps that have a fee for their service, but which offer parents interaction and over-sight that the free sites do not. Here are a few of those options:
- KHAN Academy (https://www.khanacademy.org/) and Quizlet (https://quizlet.com/) are great learning websites, which can also be downloaded as apps on a tablet or phone. They have learning videos, pre-loaded flashcards to help with math and vocabulary, or can be used to simply teach and quiz on a variety of concepts.
Other ideas and tips:
- Call your local LIBRARY and find out if they are having any summer reading programs.
- Go to one of the MANY local Museums in Dunn, Fayetteville, Raleigh, or ANY of the surrounding communities – they are usually free, they have interactive learning activities, and they are a way to get out of the heat and do something with your children. My personal favorites are the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences in downtown Raleigh, and the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in downtown Fayetteville.
- For MIDDLE SCHOOL students, there are websites that offer an option to practice grade-specific skills. I also recommend encouraging your Middle School student to read and talk to you about what they are reading. I encourage taking practice tests (they are available on KHAN Academy) to start familiarizing with the ACT and SAT. I encourage parents of Middle Schoolers to be aware of cell phone and tablet time, to set limits for when they can be used and for how long (they SHOULD NOT take their cell phone to bed with them), and monitor texting and use of Social Media for messaging and posting.
- For HIGH SCHOOL students, continue using KHAN Academy and other websites that provide practice for the ACT and SAT. I encourage students to find out what their next English class will assign for reading, and to start reading the book during the summer – that way, when they read it in class it will be familiar and easier for them to understand and comprehend. Still have rules about cell phone and Social Media use. Remember, the patterns your teens learn during this time become HABITS they take into adulthood, including habits related to eating, sleeping, exercise, use of Social Media and particularly texting and “posting.”
My challenge to you is to make this summer a summer to remember, for both you AND your children. If you have any idea you want to share with other parents, please respond to the blog post (with a link if you have one) or share a link on our Facebook post or other social media!
Author Melanie Crumpler- Read her Bio