The hazy days of summer can slip by very fast. While both children and parents want to savor vacation season, it is also a time to maintain skills learned over the past school year, and to prepare kids for the transition back to school.
Why is it important to keep kids socially and academically engaged over the summer?
By the time June rolls around, many kids are all too eager for a break from anything that smacks of school. It’s healthy for kids to take a break, but staying active as learners over the long summer break is crucial — both for holding on to prior learning, and for being ready to return to school with behaviors and attitudes that will help new knowledge and ideas take hold.
Research has shown that reading over the summer, especially if children choose their own books, helps maintain and bolster students’ reading skills and prevents “summer slide,” which, over the course of only a few summers, can have a cumulative deleterious effect on educational progress. The benefits associated with reading are significant, with children who read over the summer showing effects comparable to having attended three sessions of summer school. These findings hold across income levels, and are also true for math computation skills.
What can I do to keep my child socially and academically engaged during the summer?
- Ensure that your child completes any summer assignments. These will help him or her prepare for the next grade level and smoothly transition back to school.
- If your family’s vacation plans have kept you out of town a lot, or your child has been away at camp and out of touch with his or her school friends, arrange play-dates or, if your child is older, encourage him or her to reach out to friends so they can reconnect before the school year gets going.
- It’s not too late to check with your child’s teachers, your public library, and/or your local bookstores about summer reading programs. As mentioned above, reading is one way children can maintain and advance skills they’ve learned in school during the summer months.
- Encourage engagement between your child and his or her environment. Have him or her make an oral or written report about current events for dinner table discussion; discuss TV and movies after watching; and help your child document vacations and trips by gathering mementos, taking photos, writing postcards, or keeping a journal.
- Enlist your child’s help in making to-do lists, grocery lists, and other notes or cards that families depend on. Also enlist your child’s help with household chores, errands, and planning/organization for trips or outings.
With just a little effort on the part of parents, and hopefully not too much coaxing, families can make the most of summer and help get kids sharpened up for an exciting new school year ahead.