Scott Cole: Tips for your children to avoid the summer slide
One doesn’t need the weather to let them know what time of year it is. If you are a parent, your children have made it clear summer is upon us. Students everywhere are ready to ditch their pencils and schoolbooks and say good-bye to their teachers.
While summer is a time for having fun and being a child, sometimes this can have a drawback to a student’s education. Many children have what is called “the summer slide” — everything they accomplished during the school year and all they learned regresses without daily instruction and practice.
Coming back to school eight weeks later, children can struggle in their schoolwork because they have lost a lot of what they had learned.
How can a parent help to fight some of these issues? What can they do to help ensure that their child can return to school on a high note? The following are some tips so that your child can have a good summer and yet return to school ready to go.
TALK WITH YOUR CHILD
There are hundreds of learning opportunities for your child if you know where to find them. If you see a mockingbird, talk to him or her about how it mimics other birds. If you see a vulture eating an animal on the side of the road, talk to your child about the food chain. If you are growing a garden, talk to them about how the sun and fertilizer helps plants to grow. Tell a historical story around a summer campfire. Share some trivia about the planets and stars while you gaze up at the night sky. A movie on TV or a song on the radio can spark a fun conversation.
Any way you can interact and engage with your child will go a long way. Getting a child to analyze and interpret the world around them will help with crucial cognitive skills. Just as young children like to ask “why?” — ask them questions too.
Challenge them and see what they know or what they think they know.
North Carolina is one of the most diverse states in the nation. You can drive from ski slopes in the mountains to the beaches and marshlands in just a few hours. There are hundreds of historical and educational sites all across the state.
However, you don’t need to go to the ends of the state to find something fun and educational to do. Within 90 minutes from our locale, you can be anywhere from Raleigh to the coastline. There are plenty of museums and places to explore nature. Many of these are free or at low cost.
Closer to home, many opportunities await. Grifton’s A Time For Science, Kinston’s Neuse River Nature Center, or the CSS Neuse Interpretative Center provide opportunities to discover the past and learn about nature in many fun ways.
The Cliffs of the Neuse Park in Seven Springs has several hiking trails where you can interact with nature on a personal level. Even a trip to Grainger Stadium to see the Wood Ducks play can provide some basic math lessons for a child.
CAMPS AND REC PROGRAMS
Some of the most interesting ways a child can learn can be found right here in our own communities. Many town and country programs have different educational programs that can be of interest to your child.
Some schools put on reading or math camps to help build up skills. Many churches hold vacation Bible school programs. These programs can help a child with their reading and analytical skills.
Any good coach will tell you that practice makes perfect — Michael Jordan didn’t become the best player over night. It took years of dedication to make those clutch shots at an elite level. A quality education is no different.
Find ways for kids to work on math and reading skills during the summer. There are plenty of websites and games that can enhance a child’s skills. Many of these programs are so fun, a child doesn’t even realize they are learning. Even if it is basic skills, they will help basic knowledge stay fresh enough for the school year to come.
Reading is the most essential key to a student’s success in today’s world. Most state examinations, as a child grows up, are based on their ability to read. Therefore, a child’s score depends heavily on how well they can read.
It’s more than just decoding what the word is; many students can decode well enough. Many students struggle with reading comprehension. They may be able to read, but they may not understand what it is they just read. They may struggle with the prefixes and suffixes at the beginning and ending of words.
If they can read, but they can’t comprehend what they’ve read, they are going to struggle in school. And if a child doesn’t read during the summer, their ability to comprehend what they read will regress.
The solution is to read to your child. Find an age appropriate book and have them read to you. Ask them questions about what they read. For a bigger challenge, find books they might not have read and see if they can read and understand that. You could even have your child read your favorite local online news source and teach them about the importance of good community citizenship.
If you follow these tips, you and your child can have a fun summer together. More importantly, they will be better prepared to enter school when August rolls around.