(BPT) - Students of all ages look forward to the carefree days of summer, yet parents and teachers nationwide worry about the summer slide - the learning loss that happens to all children when they are out of school. Fortunately, preventing learning loss isn't difficult if you plan some fun, enriching experiences throughout the vacation months.
'Research indicates most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in math computation skills over the summer months because the learning is not embedded into their environment,' says Dominique Ciccarelli, education specialist at Kumon North America. 'Students who do not read consistently over the summer break lose a few months of their knowledge and skills in reading ability also. Year after year, this impact can add up and lead to a big difference in proficiency.'
If you worry your kids will roll their eyes at the thought of doing educational activities during summer vacation, it's up to you to find enjoyable ways for them to get excited about learning during the break. Ciccarelli suggests seven fun activities for boosting brain power during the summer months:
1. Visit the library weekly
Reading books is one of the best summertime activities to prevent summer learning loss. Make weekly library visits part of your family's routine. Libraries are free and offer a plethora of things worth exploring. Check out your local library's summer-reading programs where kids can participate in story hour and tally books read in order to receive rewards. Most libraries also have a community board, where you can find local family-friendly events.
2. Participate in a learning program
Studying doesn't have to be a drag during the summer months when you choose a program like Kumon. The math and reading program features individualized lesson plans that allow kids to work at their own pace. Visit www.kumon.com to learn more - registration is free June 1 to July 8 at participating centers.
3. Play math games
Look for opportunities to practice math skills every day. Create a chart with your children to track the daily temperature. At the end of the summer, review the chart together and discuss any changes in the weather. A yard sale can also be a great learning experience. Use this as a chance to pose questions about the cost of multiple items and making change for customers.
4. Start a book club
Reading is fun, especially when children can do it with their friends. See if you can get some parents together to create a book club during the summer. Reading books that match ability level and interests exposes children to new worlds, cultures, and points of view, while improving language skills. Each child can take a turn selecting a book and then hosting a club date with snacks. Guided discussions facilitated by a parent or older sibling ensures children comprehend what they are reading. The Kumon Recommended Reading List at www.kumon.com has plenty of books to choose from.
5. Create a story
Kids are typically told what and how to study in school, so during the summer give them the freedom to create a story based on a topic of interest. Have each child select one subject to explore and let them decide how they would like to tell their story. With options like paintings, collages, video recordings, or simply written like a traditional story book, the sky is the limit. Once the stories are complete, have the children present their creative take on storytelling to the family.
6. Visit a museum
Spend time this summer exploring local museums. Many have interactive exhibits, which can make learning even more engaging. Museums also provide a great opportunity for children to learn more about their interest in subjects like science or history. It can also serve as a chance to introduce kids to new areas of interest they have yet to discover, such as art or math.
7. Make a kite
Spending the afternoon flying a kite can be an enjoyable family experience that becomes synonymous with summertime. Make this a fun learning experience your children can truly appreciate by building a kite with them. Measuring and cutting out shapes is a great way to apply math skills to a fun activity. Once everyone's favorite colors have been added, take the kite out for a test flight.