Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Summer Learning Slump

Okay, yes, it's the lazy, hazy days of summer and the livin' is easy, but I guarantee you that in just a few weeks you'll hear, "Mom, I'm bored." As a teacher I know the drawbacks to summer - it's called the summer learning slump. This is exactly why we have to spend time at the beginning of each year reviewing. Kids actually do forget what they've learned over the summer.

As a mom I want to ensure that my kids are always learning and spend their time pursuing something they're interested in (besides the television or some other screen). It's a matter of balancing their time. There are a number of ways to short circuit the summer learning slump, not the least of which is READING. Summer is a great time to catch up on reading for pleasure for all ages. To your left you will see Book Report Central with summer reading suggestions for middle school age children. There are a host of other resources for children younger and older online if you search under "summer reading lists elementary" or "summer reading lists high school." But since I teach middle school, this is my focus.

Don't let the summer camps and programs have all the fun with your child! Get in the act and show your child how to learn and have fun at the same time.

  • Joining a summer reading program at your library or bookstore. There are always great incentives to kids to read. Or start your own at home. You can even choose to read a novel as a family aloud a little each evening. Even teens like to be read to.
  • Summer is a good time to museum "hop." Check out what's in your area and spend some time online prior to your trip familiarizing yourselves with what you'll find there. If the museum has a companion program of some kind, enroll as a family if possible.
  • Field Trips. Often we don't take the time to be a tourists in our own region or state. Those places you usually only take company to, go as a family instead. AAA has some good "get away" packages that are affordable for your area. Florida is a huge state, so we try to explore one area of it we've never seen every summer.
  • Practice writing. Encourage your kids to keep a journal, either on paper or online. Buy a themed or beautifully decorated bound journal from your bookstore just for this purpose. You can offer your kids writing prompts or encourage them to write in response to something they did or saw over the summer. Writing over the summer keeps those skills sharp for September. See our daily prompts on the Google calendar on the right sidebar.
  • Take time this summer to get your kids to eat right. Practice preparing nutrient-rich breakfasts that are easy to prepare in the summer so it won't be so difficult once school starts again. Have kids help plan meals, make the list, go shopping and cook at least one meal for the family each week if they're old enough. A nourished brain is a smart brain. For more information on feeding your kids for success check out Brain Food.

And remember to relax! I have to actually remind some parents about that because we can get too busy in so many activities during the summer that we need a break from summer break. It's all about balance.

Let us know if you have other ideas for avoiding the summer learning slump.