Learning in the Sun

We have all heard of the infamous “Summer Slide” and if you haven’t, it is the loss of knowledge that occurs during the summer months.  Children are usually outside playing, babysitting siblings, or inside playing video games or on social media–all of which are not promoting learning throughout the summer.  So, in turn, they lose what they have learned throughout the school year and the brain becomes lazy.  As a teacher, it is always interesting to hear a student say “Mr. or Mrs. So and So didn’t teach us that last year.  This is mostly 90% incorrect.  They were in fact taught the concepts but failed to retain them throughout the summer and the brain placed the information into the deep recesses of their mind.  They just don’t remember. This leads to a reteaching of concepts that have already been taught and a waste of classroom time that could be spent on “going deeper” with those same concepts.

Every summer, I have my daughter read a book and tell me about it.  If it is a book that I haven’t read myself, I pull a copy of the chapter by chapter summary from online (to make sure she is not bluffing).  Most times, she has a summer reading assignment for her teacher for the upcoming year but, I also give her assignments myself.  The web is a great tool.  I can create crossword puzzles to test her knowledge of the book.  There may even be some already created.  My new passion is Prezi, so this summer, I am having her use this platform to summarize the story (plot events), conflict, theme, and main characters.  She is currently reading ” The Fault in Our Stars”.

Another tool I use is my local bookstore.  There is an entire teacher/education section where I pick up material for her to study math concepts (this is her hardest subject).  It is important, especially with subjects that children find challenging, to keep them immersed in the material all year-long.  Finally, the local library usually runs a summer reading contest or club catering to the different age groups.  There are so many resources out there and if you need any other ideas, feel free to drop me a line.  I have also added my Pinterest board “No More Summer Slide,” that provides a wealth of resources and I will continue to add to it as I come across great links.  Remember, you are not stealing the fun away from your child.  They can still go out and play.  But, what you are doing is preparing them to be successful academically and later on in life.


Summer Learning

brain drainMy daughter will be entering the 7th grade this upcoming school year and it is my goal to make sure that she doesn’t lose what she has learned and build upon what she has retained. When kids take summer vacation and do not read or practice their skills they have a hard time retaining them. I know this because I am a teacher and the same students who sit in my classroom at the beginning of the school year cannot remember anything from the previous year except for one or two songs and maybe what they learned right near the end. This lapse of time in learning when children lose knowledge is most commonly referred to as ‘brain drain’.

Do NOT let ‘brain drain’ happen to your kid(s).

What are some steps that you can take to ensure that this doesn’t happen to your kid?

1. If you are a single mama like myself (and even if you’re not) and your child will be with family during the summer or in daycare, make sure that they know what you expect. My kids stay with their grandparents during the summer and I expect my daughter to read a certain amount of chapters a weekday from a book that either she or I have selected and be able to tell me a little about it when I speak with her. I also purchase math workbooks, reading comprehension workbooks, and writing workbooks from the teacher store or Barnes and Noble.
2. Have your kid(s) complete a couple of grade level or above grade level reading comprehension passages a week. Remember to tear out the answer keys from the backs of these books. Grade them when you have a chance or when you get home from work.
3. After you have graded their work be sure to celebrate their successes and conference with them in regards to what they have incorrect and why.
4. I understand that not everyone is a teacher like myself or has the time to grade and go over answers. In that case, why not employ a high school or college student at a bargain rate to assist you once or twice a week.
5. For very young children, read to them and ask them questions about what they heard. Also, allow them to practice their handwriting because in this day and age so many of them use technology and do not get enough practice doing so.

6. Take them to any free museums this summer or plays in the park. Look up your local community calendar or a community calendar of cities nearby. Expose them to art (graffiti can be art, too).
7. Check your child’s school website to see if they have any summer reading assignments that will be due the first week of school. Some even have science, history, and math assignments that are due the first week.
8. Try exposing them to a word a day which you can easily download an app from your phone.
9. Check the web for free resources and download content to your computer for your child to read and complete.
10. Use your public library. They always have events and free programs for kids of all ages. Some libraries even offer rewards and badges for completion of books with weekly check-ins.

As a parent it is crucial for us to take an active role in our children’s’ education. The position we take should be both proactive and purposeful. Creating an educated society and children who are equipped for life and college-ready (whether they choose to attend or not) is my personal goal as a teacher and parent. If you need other suggestions, please check the sites below:

NASA Exploration Design Challengehttp://ht.ly/lFlGe

NYC Youth Voices Summer Programhttp://www.incited.org/projects/youth-voices-summer-program-connected-learning-with-the-nyc-writing-project

Google + Maker Camphttp://makezine.com/maker-camp/

Books to read with boyshttp://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/03/67-books-for-kids/?pid=1185&viewall=true

Journaling Pageshttp://www.graceisoverrated.com/p/journal-pages.html

Lessons and Printable Worksheetshttp://www.readwritethink.org/ and http://writingfix.com/index.htm



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