You know the old adage, “practice makes perfect”? Did you know it’s not actually true? Practice does not make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect. In the education world, we prefect the phrase, “practice makes permanent.”
Did you know that students can lose up to 2 months of grade level equivalency in math and reading over the summer months? According to research done by Dr. Harris Cooper, a professor at Duke University, we need to, “…dispense with romanticized notions associated with the traditional summer break, look at what’s really going on, and consider the consequences. Lots of kids get bored over summer.”
While not everyone has the ability to be home with their school-aged children during the summer months, there are many things parents can do to ensure their student does not begin the next school year lagging behind. Here are four things all parents can do to help their students bridge the summer learning gap.
1. Sign up for a summer school program. I know, I know..but it’s SUMMER! Kids are supposed to have FUN! In many districts, summer school at the elementary and even middle school level is VERY fun. Most districts offer an hour or so of reading and math each day, and then fill the rest of the day with fun electives like Music Mania, Bridge Building and Adventures in Babysitting. The day is fast paced, and engaging. Students get just enough of the “boring” stuff to keep them in academic shape, and get to do some pretty cool things with the rest of their days. In most cases, your child doesn’t even have to attend school in that district to attend. The Pembroke Hill School offers an extensive list of summer classes for every age and interest.
2. Summer reading. If you do nothing else this summer, promise me you’ll sign your children up for your local library’s summer reading programs! It’s free, and at the Mid-Continent branches, you can sign up babies for the listening program. All you have to do is read, and then log your books. Once you’ve read a certain amount, you get to choose free books to take home. Your local library will also host several story times and other activities throughout the week. My local library hosts teen night every Thursday. Each week has a different theme or activity, and from what I’ve heard, it’s lots of fun!
3. Establish a daily routine. For many students, summer means anxiety. I know it sounds silly. As adults, we would relish almost 3 months of nothing but sleeping in, playing, watching TV, and basically doing what we want. For some students, however, the loss of structure in their daily school routine is stressful. They won’t see their friends every day, or their teachers. Establishing a daily routine can help ease anxiety, and help everyone from falling into bad habits. Set aside time each day for children to read or look at books. Use screen time to your advantage. If they are going to play on the iPad, they may as well be playing a game that practices math facts.
4. Educational outings. Consider making a Summer Bucket List. There are so many fantastic places in Kansas City that are both fun, and educational. The Discovery Room at the Museum at Prairiefire comes to mind. What an incredible place!
The summer learning gap is easily avoidable. It doesn’t mean hours of math practice, or no TV for the entire summer. Make the most of your child’s summer months by being intentional with your routine and the activities that you plan for your family. The smallest things you do can make the biggest difference. Now, head on over to your local library’s website and sign up for their summer reading program. After all, you promised. Remember?