Keep Skills Sharp All Summer…While Still Having Fun.
Afternoons at the pool, bike rides to the creek, fireflies in glass jars. Summer, by rights, should be fun. On the other hand, however, research links a lack of summer academics to a loss of around 30 percent (or 3 months’ worth) of the previous year’s learning. Ouch.
So what’s a parent to do? Here are some suggestions for keeping skills sharp and kids happy:
1. Keep it real. Provide real-world activities to introduce and reinforce skills. “Balance paper-and-pencil practice with real-world experiences,” advises Christine Persson, former Cobb County teacher and co-owner of The School Box, along with husband Dave. “Cook together and talk about fractions. Count money and talk about decimals. Then, follow up with a practice workbook.”
Practice pages designed for summertime: Summer Bridge Activities, $13.95. Daily reading, writing, math and language arts activities hone skills all summer. Ages pre-k to eighth grade.
2. Engage the whole family. Get the whole family involved in playing a critical-thinking game. Everyone loves a game, and getting mom, dad and big brother on board sends the message that learning is important, even during the summer.
These games are tried-and-true crowd pleasers: Bananagrams, $14.99. This addictive, award-winning word game develops spelling and vocabulary skills. Ages 7 and up.
Roll n’ Multiply, $24.99. This best-selling game challenges multiplication novices and experts alike. Ages 7 and up.
Double Shutter, $19.99. This fast-paced game of tactical choices and math skills is a family—and teacher—favorite. Ages 6 and up.
3. Read! Reading for pleasure is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to keep skills sharp. Explore the local library (for free!), or give your child a $10 bill and let them loose in a bookstore. While you may want to steer them toward age-appropriate materials, be sure to let them ultimately select their own summer reading material. They’ll take more ownership over reading if they are given a choice.
If you need a recommendation to get you going, check out: Carole Marsh Mysteries, $5.95 each. These popular, educational mysteries incorporate history, geography and suspenseful cliff hangers! Ages 7 and up.