School’s Out for the Summer… How Will My Child Remain Engaged in Learning?
As the end of the school year approaches, a question parents always ask us is how they can keep their child’s mind active over the summer so they do not lose what they’ve learned during the school year. “I don’t want my child to be in front of the TV, on the iPad, on social media, or texting as their only means of stimulation during the summer,” parents say.
What they are worried about is commonly known as the “Summer Slide” or the “Brain Drain” a term used by educators and parents to describe the learning loss that takes place for many students during the summer months. Children need to stay mentally stimulated, physically active and occupied during the summer to ensure they get the most out of their break before returning back to school in September.
What Activities Can I Do with My Child?
Children will be active and engaged if they are interested in the topics, ideas and activities. Board games engage children and family members in cooperative play and enhance sharing skills, turn taking, memory and strategizing. Games like Boggle, Scrabble, Headbands, and chess are excellent games that can create fun-filled family entertainment.
Technology Can Be Your Friend, Not Your Enemy.
While many parents view technology as a “bad” thing, if used in moderation and for a specific purpose, technology can help keep a child’s mind active and motivated during the summer. There are many websites, games and apps that are fun and engaging while keeping the child engaged in learning from the comfort of their computer, iPhone, or iPad. These apps allow children to explore areas of interest and learn new things in an interactive, engaging way. Some apps include abcya.com, duolingo.com, brainpop.ca, and mathletics.ca.
Let Kids Explore.
We spend so much of our time indoors that when the warmer weather comes it is important to get outside and hear the sounds of nature. Physical activity is healthy for the brain and the body. Taking walks in parks and forests, learning about the trees, plants and local animal populations are ways in which children can learn in a natural habitat. Researching questions that children have about specific plants and animals can spark an interest from within the child.
Keep a Journal and Share Reading Time.
Children as young as JK can keep a journal and document their summer activities through words and pictures. Reading with your child as part of their daily routine will also keep your child engaged. Visits to your local library, choosing books, and listening to audiobooks will help to keep the love of literacy alive. Research consistently shows that children who are not reading and practicing the skills they learned during the school year will lose many of those skills over the summer break.
You can also try some of these activities to keep your kids stimulated:
- Practise what your children have learned throughout the year.
- Make reading a daily habit — children learn when their brain is active, even if they’re reading fun and easy books.
- Use the TV as an educational tool – make sure programs that are educational are part of your routine.
- Allow your child to use apps on the iPad that are educational tools – there are a variety of math, science and reading games that will keep your child thinking.
- Play interactive board games on family game night
- Join a sports team – this promotes physical activity and team cooperation and collaboration
The summer is a wonderful opportunity for parents to bring new experiences and opportunities to life for their children, whether they are just starting pre-school or are already entering high school. Expose your child to something different, allow them to try new things and let them explore and be curious. Seize the moment — anything can be a learning opportunity.
Don’t forget — let kids be kids!
Kids need time to play, relax, not be routined, and just let loose. The freedom to be young and create special summer memories is an important part of growing up. So remember that it’s also important to let your kids run, play, and chase the songs and sounds of the nearby ice cream truck!
Vice Principal, Himel Branch