How do you keep your child academically “sharp” over the summer?
As we are all probably aware, children can lose a significant amount of academic “sharpness” over the summer. This is mainly due to a lack of practice and exposure over the summer months. This can be a real problem for students who were struggling in school before the summer began.
It can also be a challenge because some teachers may review previous content, from the year before, when school starts back up. But there is no guarantee that any given teacher will spend enough time reviewing the content your child needs, before moving on to new material in the new year.
In order to help address this issue, there are several things you can do:
1. Understand Academic Expectations
Gain a knowledge of what content your child should know, given his or her grade-level, and try to anticipate what your child might be taught in the next grade. A simple list of skills, per grade, may help you.
Ten Things Your Child Should Know may be able to help you in this effort as this book lists skills, by grade level, that can easily be used to help you determine your child’s development of basic skills.
Also, Common Core Standards have recently been released by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) in an effort to help standardize what children should know in order to prepare them for college.
2. Reading: Encourage Your Child to Read Over the Summer
Scholastic has a summer challenge asking kids to “read for the world record.” For a child who is motivated by challenges, this might be a fun activity.
3. Practice Math Skills
Free worksheets are already pre-populated via Ten Things Your Child Should Know.com and can be used to help sharpen your child’s skills in multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction.
SuperKids.com offers tools that can help you create worksheets, on the spot, that correspond to your child’s level of development.
4. Writing: Encourage Your Child to Complete Several Writing Activities Over the Summer, with Your Guidance
One of the most important ways your child will have to express himself in school is through writing. Yet, many children do not have the necessary techniques and confidence to be skilled at writing. Over the summer encourage your child to complete several different types of writing assignments.
For example, write a summary of one of the books he or she reads this summer; write a letter to a family member and mail it; or write an essay or paragraph about “The Perfect Summer Day” and try to make that day come true for your child. Discuss the books and writing assignments your child completes and make sure you verbally congratulate her or him on a job well done. You want to make writing fun for your child because if they don’t enjoy writing, they won’t perform to their fullest potential when they are required to write in school.
Free writing guides are available via Ten Things Your Child Should Know.com. Tools are available for 1st & 2nd graders (“My First Book Report”) and for children in higher grades, 3rd grade – high school, (“Paragraph Guide,” “Gathering Information for a Research Assignment,” “Gathering Information for a Literature Assignment,” and a “Report Outline”).
These guides can be used during the summer and during school to help you guide your child’s development in writing.
There are additional sites and activities that can be found on the web that may be of use to you.
Edheads.com – Educational games and activities… some are very realistic; especially the ones that allow children to perform virtual surgeries.
Cool Math 4 Kids – All kinds of games and activities for math.
Cosmeo – Run by the Discovery Channel, this site offers a wide range of activities and lessons from literature to math. It does cost about $10 per month for full use of the site, but well worth it in a pinch.
For example, many math textbooks are housed on this site. Children can simply find their textbook under the math section, type in the page number from their book, and receive instruction about a specific topic in their book.
I hope the information covered here will be useful to you in some way and feel free to share your thoughts and ideas about what to do over the summer and during school!