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School’s Out! School’s Out! Now what?

Unless you or your child attends a year – round school, summer vacation begins sometime in the next week or so. College students have read more pages than they thought humanly possible, taken many exams, written research papers, and stayed up way too late over the past 10 months. Parents of school – aged children have helped with homework, gone to parent/ teacher conferences, E-mailed teachers, and maybe volunteered for one activity too many. This article will help you understand the importance of continuing your/ your child’s learning over the summer and lists several suggestions on how to make the fall back - to - school transition much easier!

Suffer No Setbacks

Educational researchers agree that students need to continue their education over the summer or they stand to lose up to three (3) months worth of the previous year’s learning. Think about that for a minute. It’s like going to class from March to May for no reason! Unless you keep learning over the summer, you’ll have to re-learn the material you’ve forgotten through teacher reviews, or you’ll simply forget the information and fall behind. The first option is a waste of your time. The second will make next year’s learning more difficult and will accumulate over the years.

There are ways to fight this “summer brain drain”. Choose something that will fit your lifestyle and schedule. While you should certainly relax over the summer, neglecting your education can make your return to school in the fall nerve wracking. Here are several suggestions that will help students retain the past year’s learning:

1. Reading. Nearly all the research I’ve read has mentioned summer reading as the number one way to fight the “summer brain drain”. The good news is that any reading will do! You don’t have to read fine literature! Choose something you want to read and don’t worry about the book’s length or complexity. (College students should love that suggestion!) If you start reading something that “looked good” and you find you don’t like it, abandon that book and move on to another. Don’t waste time trudging through a boring book that you will put off reading.

Parents should give their children a chance to choose books they might like by taking them to the public library or local bookstore. Another option is to sign up for a free online book exchange like bookmooch.com, PaperBackSwap.com, or Read It Swap It (http://www.readitswapit.co.uk/TheLibrary.aspx) for readers in the United Kingdom. Typically, the only requirement is that you list a set number of books you’d like to trade to get started. I’ve personally used bookmooch.com since 2007 and postage to ship books is the only cost I’ve ever paid! (Bookmooch.com asks new users to list 10 books they’re willing to ship to requesters to get started.)

2. Do the Math! Some research evidence suggests that elementary and secondary - level students lose more Math learning than any other subject. Parents can certainly search the Internet for grade – level appropriate Math worksheets and help your child complete them, but that may bore them and make them resistant to working on them regularly.

Instead, show your children how you use math in your everyday life. For example, if you’re shopping with your teenager, ask them to help you decide which sale items are a better bargain by comparing their regular price, the discount percentage, and the quality of the material. You can ask younger children to help you figure out what supplies you’ll need for your summer family barbeque.

However you choose to do it, make sure to incorporate Math in your summer routine. Be creative and make it interesting for your child. Avoid those worksheets!

3. Structured Review. Some students may need a more structured review. For example, some busy families need a ready to use curriculum. These families have several options. First, they can use grade - level - appropriate home school materials that are widely available online and at some teacher’s stores. A second option is to use a computer software program (such as Jump Start or Mastering Middle School) that will track each child’s progress and levels. A third option is to hire a tutor or teacher to create a custom summer program for your children. The tutor or teacher could visit two or three times each month to assess the child’s progress and provide supervised practice with any material they’re struggling with. Another option is to attend regular or virtual summer school classes.

Don’t Wait! Whether you’re an adult student or the parent of a school – aged child, it’s best to start right after the school year ends. Get into the habit of doing something educational every day before time slips away and the summer is over. Make a plan with specific steps you’ll take and completion dates to improve your odds of following through. Let your children know why summer learning is important and schedule daily learning time. You’ll reap the rewards when you/ your student go back to school in the fall.

Summary

Unless they continue their education during the summer, students of all ages can lose up to three (3) months of the previous year’s learning during the summer. Some research suggests that the biggest loses are in Math learning. Adult students and parents of school – aged children should incorporate educational activities such as daily reading, Math, and/ or more structured programs like educational software, tutor/ teacher – directed personalized programs, or summer school over the summer.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please take a minute to leave a comment, Like this post on Facebook, or Tweet the post via Twitter using the buttons on the right side of my blog page. If you have questions about this article, or if you need advice for your unique situation, feel free to E-mail me using the “E-mail Jeff S.” button on my WyzAnt tutor home page. If you have a topic suggestion, please leave it in the Comment section below. I welcome any feedback you have!