By PATRICK MCNAMARA
Within 24 to 48 hours after learning new concepts, students often begin to forget information unless it is reinforced or applied immediately. That’s why, during summer break, even the best students forget lessons they have learned during the school year. Some studies have shown that students can lose up to 2-1/2 months of learning during the summer. As you can imagine, this year, summer learning loss is going to be even more dramatic. Teachers did the best they could with online learning, but students (especially students who were already struggling) did not learn everything they needed to know. Following are some recommendations for families that want to minimize summer learning loss.
To help writing skills, encourage your child to start a diary or write letters to a grandparent or friend. Those relatives and friends you can’t visit right now will certainly appreciate it. Zoom calls are great, but grandma will recognize that a letter took time and effort. If you are taking a vacation (even the staycation that will be common this summer), ask your child to keep a journal recording what you did. At the end of every day, talk through the activities with your child and help him or her translate thoughts into writing. It not only improves writing skills, but also creates great family memories. The only way to improve at writing is to write, and if they write consistently, your child will be less likely to be intimidated by a blank piece of paper in the fall.
Helping mom or dad with grocery shopping develops opportunities to use math skills, such as calculating best prices, making change, weighing fruits and vegetables, etc. Providing assistance with cooking can also familiarize children with weights and measures, organization and planning and following a recipe. Help children pick a recipe, create an ingredients list and go shopping together.
You can’t start too early or read too much. Let’s say that second part again. 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. Children also learn by example. If parents are setting time aside to read, it reinforces the fun and enjoyment of reading. Remember that librarians love to help families find books that are appropriate for your child’s reading level and interests, and many offer virtual children’s programs.
Many family games and puzzles are not only fun, but help children to develop and reinforce skills. A simple card or board game can involve mathematics, analysis and logical thinking.
Parents don’t need to come up with a list of activities. There are an abundance of sites that provide summer resources for families. SylvanNation.com offers free educational resources, helpful tips and strategies on summer learning. There are age-appropriate activities and worksheets you can download for your child.
There are many enrichment activities available for children when school is out-of-session. Sylvan Learning offers engaging personalized tutoring that can bridge academic skill gaps for kids who are behind, maintain academic skills so kids avoid summer learning loss or preview next year’s skills for families who want their children to start school in the fall with confidence.
Patrick McNamara is the owner and executive director at Sylvan Learning of Albany and Clifton Park. For more information, visit SylvanLearning.com.