Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer is a Child's Opportunity to Learn

by Karen Sieber, sylvan-lakecountry.com For most children, summer is a time to leave classes and homework behind. However, when they return to school in the fall after the long summer break, students can find themselves struggling to catch up. Skills and knowledge gained throughout the school year fade during the summer months. Loss of content retention begins within 24 to 48 hours of learning unless the new information is reinforced or applied immediately. After a month without reinforcement, approximately 80 percent of what a student has recently learned can be lost. A break from school is great for recharging your children's batteries, but if they are not using their skills and knowledge that was learned in the classroom, they could find themselves lagging behind when school starts up again. For children who have been struggling at school, summer can be their opportunity to catch-up on key skills and feel more confident when they head back to class. For students who do will, it's an opportunity to keep their enthusiasm for learning high. Parents can play a key role in reinforcing learning on an ongoing basis. Below are some practical tips for integrating continuous learning into fun, family activities all summer long: - Read with your child: You can't start too early. You can't read too much. Reading to young children nurtures an interest in language, words and communication. For older kids, reading together can be fun and interesting. Read the books together with your children and ask questions about the plot and characters. - Search for reading activities on the Internet and create a reading list. There are an abundance of sites that provide summer reading lists for children. At http://www.BookAdventure.com , children (K-8) create personalized book lists from more than 7,000 recommended titles, take quizzes on the books they've read at school or at home, and earn prized for understanding the books they've read. The program is designed to motivate students to read more often, for longer periods of time and with greater understanding. - Plan a field trip. Plan a trip to an interesting site close to home - an historic site, a museum, the zoo etc. Research the trip in advance with your child and discuss it afterwards. - Find pen pals. Encourage your child to write notes and letters to family members and friends as a way of practicing writing. - Plan a meal together. Helping mom or dad with the regular grocery shopping and meal preparation creates opportunities to use math skills such as making change, weighing fruits and vegetables, etc. - Visit the library. Libraries can recommend books appropriate for your child's reading level and interests, and many libraries offer free children's programs. - Keep a journal. Give your child an empty notebook to keep a summer journal. Regular entries will keep writing skills active. - Summer enrichment programs. There are a variety of enrichment programs available for children. Check with your local see to what is available in your area. Karen Sieber has 15 years of public education experience. She is an elementary principal and owner of Sylvan Learning in Lake Country. Please visit her site at http://www.sylvan-lakecountry.com and click on her blog to get more information and ideas on how to assist your child in his/her education throughout the school year and in the summer months.

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