Studies have shown that children can lose between 10 and 25 percent of their reading skills over the course of the summer. This is directly due to the lack of work, skills and drills in which the student should be engaged over the break from school. It manifests itself in a slow start and difficulty with coursework when school resumes. Additionally, a child’s ability to write effectively is hindered because the writing process has not continued over the summer. Below are several ideas to help your child maintain and improve his or her abilities over the summer months.
READ, READ, READ: Reading is without a doubt the most important facet to a child’s education regardless of age or grade in school. Even math tests are becoming more challenging as word problems are nearly impossible to answer correctly without an understanding of the task at hand. Although many schools have summer reading assignments, more often than not a child sees this as a punishment since the book was chosen for them and not by them. Most students read the summer book assigned three or four days before school begins.
To get your child excited about reading, purchase a $15 gift card from the local bookstore and allow him to choose any book he feels like reading. (Of course, it must be appropriate.) This does not have to be a book that he will be reading for school. It will have extra meaning since it will be a book that he has chosen without parental or teacher input.
Write, Write, Write: Journals or diaries are an excellent way to keep students in the “school mode”. While reading is important, writing and reading work in concert. Children will not want to do long writing assignments, but journals based on what they read and how they feel about the readings can be brief and assist them in moving forward once school begins.
Fun Study Groups: Kids get together all the time to play video games, watch movies, and just hang out. An exciting book or magazine article that all have read can spark some additional interest. This is a bit more difficult because it requires some parent input. You might find an article on the Internet about a video game the kids play and challenge them to create a test for you based on that article. This way, you have to read the article as well. The culmination is to see if they can stump you on a question. Bet them a trip to their favorite ice cream store once they have completed their test regardless of how well you do on the exam. (Pizza works, too!)
Movie Reviews: Take your child and a friend to the movies and offer to buy extra surprises at the candy counter if they promise to write a movie review afterwards.
Letters: The arrival of computers and improved technology has been a double-edged sword in society. Our children rely on spell checkers and other such programs to provide them with a product that is well written. Have them write to their grandparents via “snail mail” rather than email in order to maintain and sharpen their skills.
While it is difficult to have children complete arduous assignments over the summer, it is important and necessary to engage them in activities that will keep their brains active. This will make the transition from one school year to the next more positive for them on a variety of levels. Turn the summer brain drain into the summer BRAIN GAIN!
MARC HOBERMAN, M.S. Ed., is a Rockland dad and owner of The Grade Success Education Center in Monsey. His services include instruction for students in grades K-12, college prep, speed-reading and study skills, and a full service College Advisement Center. He is a motivational speaker, author and educator with over 22 years of teaching experience. He can be contacted at (845) 369-7967; [email protected]; www.gradesuccessinc.com.