Archivi tag: summer learning

#edchat #summerlearning Give them access to reading material and they will be fine!

Summer Learning Fun, Via E-mail and Download

Common Sense Media

As with many things, some parents worry disproportionately about “summer slide.” Do children forget everything they’ve learned over the long summer break? It depends on how and where they spend it. If you’re reading my words, it’s likely that your children have access to reading materials at home. Children who don’t read over the summer lose two to three months of reading development while children who do gain a month — but research shows that children surrounded by reading material don’t appear to be at much risk. Summer reading is as effective as summer school, and it doesn’t matter what children read, as long as the reading is happening.

But even if “summer slide” is something of a manufactured concern for the kinds of parents who worry about these things (I don’t really want to be that parent, but who are we kidding?), many of us want to keep our children engaged over the summer.

“You don’t want to give children the idea that learning is something you need a vacation from,” said Tiffany Cooper Gueye, chief executive of BELL, a national nonprofit program dedicated to transforming the academic achievements of children living in under-resourced urban areas. “Many kids don’t necessarily need a formal program, just encouragement to maintain their interest in things they already love.” BELL does provide structured programs, but creates an environment that Dr. Gueye says “doesn’t look or feel like school.”

I recognize the mistake I’ve made over the years when I’ve worried that one child or another would forget hard-earned gains in skills. As a younger parent, I was prone to setting goals that set us up for failure: Worksheets, reading logs. I’ve (mostly) wised up. I haven’t bought a single new “summer skills” book this year, and I’m planning to count on ordinary activities to keep my children engaged. Regular library trips, with visits to the nonfiction shelves for bird guides or the physics of sand castles. Cooking. The science of marshmallow roasting.

But I have found two easy and free nonprofit resources that send a daily learning opportunity straight to my e-mail in-box. Wonderopolis and Bedtime Math offer the opportunity to mix things up, talk about subjects we might not ordinarily explore and have a little mental stretch. I’ve written about Bedtime Math before. Nightly missives combine a new topic with three levels of math questions asked in words, not numbers. (Giraffes sleep only two hours a day. If cats sleep for 12 hours a day and dogs sleep for 10 hours, how many hours more do cats sleep?)

The toughest questions sometimes challenge even adults, and listening to my children work out the questions teaches me something about they way they think and learn. Knowing that one child will answer the question “If you walk two dogs with four legs each, how many legs are you walking?” with “Six!” every time tells me that there is something we need to work on over the summer — and it isn’t math skills, it’s listening.

Wonderopolis (from the National Center for Family Literacy) sends a daily e-mail, too, this time with the answer to an “I wonder” question. Do birds really get angry? Where is the hottest place on Earth? It’s not a quiz, but a chance to add something fresh to any slow moment.

I’ve also found Common Sense Media’s Camp Virtual guide. Another free resource from a nonprofit, the guide is dedicated to choosing apps, games and Web sites that “let kids have fun while keeping up their existing skills and building new ones.” My children were disappointed to learn that our “screens are for weekends” policy will continue over the summer, but when the screens are on, I’ll let them try new choices from the camp-themed selections like “Scavenger Hunt” and “Talent Show.” (Years ago, I reviewed children’s television for Common Sense Media, and I know for a fact that they’re more selective than I am on my own.)

Do you do anything to prevent “summer slide” at your house, and why? What has worked, and what has felt like work? If you’ve got a resource or a plan for summer learning, please share — even if you just want to say it’s cool to let things slide.

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Archiviato in EdChat, English, Extra Curricular Activities

How to Relate Everyday Activities with School: a useful reminder

Rather obvious and simplistic as “Learning Options” but useful as checklist of activities to keep your kids engaged .

10 Ways to keep kids learning during the summer


Your kids don’t have to lose ground this summer due to the break. They can keep right on learning while having fun and you can plan activities to maintain or enhance the things they learned during the school year.

Here are a few things to help get you thinking of ways to make this an enriching summer for your kids.

  1. Kitchen math – Now is the time to get the kids to help you in the kitchen. Recipes are perfect for teaching and maintaining knowledge of simple fractions. If you want to get into more complicated math, have the kids help you take a huge recipe and cut it in half or double a recipe to share with someone. All the while they are learning or maintaining their skills.
  2. Astronomy – Summer nights are perfect for star gazing. Take the kids to the planetarium or just get a map of the stars and try to figure out where the constellations are. You could also invest in a telescope to get a closer view of the magnificent night sky. Your kids might just make a new discovery!
  3. History – Are you planning a family vacation? Why not make it an historical tour? Find out what your kids have been studying in history or what they may expect to study next year, and see if you can plan your vacation around a place that fits. Have the kids do some research on points between home and the destination and let them help plan the trip. Need to do a staycation? Not to worry; just find out about your local history and visit places nearby.
  4. Cartography – Teach the kids how to make a map. They can map out the house, then the block. For older kids you can teach them how to read a road map. All the little numbers and symbols mean something. Once they figure out the map legend and how to use the numbers, take a little trip someplace and have them figure out all the exits and distances. This will also help their math skills.
  5. Science – Summer provides all kinds of opportunities for scientific study. Kid can create bug collections, do pond studies or plant identification. Show them how to classify and log their findings in a special journal. You may have a budding naturalist in the making. If you’re really brave, you can show your older kids about the properties of light by using a magnifying glass to burn a piece of wood or you could do something a little more tame like making a pinhole camera.
  6. Language skills – When was the last time you sat down and shared your life story with the kids? This is a perfect time to do that. Make some copies of old family pictures and get the kids to pretend to be journalists and interview you about the people and places in the pictures. They write the stories you tell and save everything in a scrapbook. You get to preserve family history, they get to know you and the relatives better, and they keep up their language skills.
  7. Woodworking – Older kids may enjoy doing woodworking. The measuring required will help them with their math skills. Discussing the properties of the materials (e.g., soft wood vs. hard woods, wood grains, porosity, etc.) can help with critical thinking skills and scientific inquiry.  Obviously, these projects require close supervision by a parent or caregiver.
  8. Sewing – Teaching kids how to read patterns and figuring out yardage will also help with math skills. Designing original items can also help with the development of the creative mind.
  9. Music – There are music camps available that provide training and fun. Many kids look forward to attending these camps on an annual basis. But, if that’s not an option, get the kids interested in music for the fun of it. Sing songs around the campfire and break out the guitar and other instruments. Music also enhances math skills.
  10. Arts and crafts – This is a grossly neglected part of education for many kids. Take them to the art museums and craft fairs. Let them experiment with different craft material or let them try their hand at using oil or watercolor paints. You might even want to enter some of their crafts in the county fair.

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