Summer can be a time of magic when you’re a child. Days spent soaked in sunshine, playing and carefree are what summers are made of. Schoolwork is not.
But helping your young child retain what they learned during the school year throughout the summer doesn’t have to be tedious. You can incorporate it into the magic of summer and avoid the dip in learning that so many kids experience after a summer off.
Amy French-Troy, development and communications manager for TLC Learning Center, spent more than 15 years as a K-12 teacher and says she would see kids work so hard all year and then go back half a year in their progress when they came back and dropped off from summer.
Her advice to keep your kids engaged and avoid summer drop off is to follow your child’s interests.
“Follow their curiosities. Help them stay engaged by taking them outside on walks and asking them what they see. Look at bugs and then look them up. Taking kids to the library regularly for events and to check out nonfiction books about what they’re interested in helps get kids interested in learning more and makes them more apt to stick with it when it comes time to read,” she says.
Other ideas she gave to keep kids engaged throughout the summer include reading to your child, listening to podcasts, engaging with and talking to your child. And while these may seem obvious, intentionally engaging with your child is very different than many of the daily interactions you will have with your child.
French-Troy says cooking covers math skills and directions like “first, then” and “next,” and leads into what they’ll have to learn once they go into elementary school. Playing board games and other games is good for social and emotional development and encourages taking turns and playing together.
“This is important, especially now that kids are on devices so much more. We’ve seen a big decrease in fine motor skills, so anything you can do over the summer to practice things like proper pencil grip, letters and tracing is helpful.”
This can be done in a fun way with lacing cards, Play Doh, clay and even using scissors. French-Troy says using scissors and other fine motor skills play such a big part in the things kids have to do during school.
“Tying shoelaces or making an art project becomes difficult when you have weak muscles in your hands. Your handwriting also gets messier and your hands get tired faster. Doing crafts puzzles and playing with Legos makes kids have to work those muscles.”
At the end of the day, read to your child for the love of reading.
“It’s a good habit when they get into it. It teaches them that reading is not always work and encourages a love of it,” she says. “The evening is an ideal time of day for families to practice social and emotional skills and reconnect after a busy day.”
For more information about TLC Learning Center, visit learningwithtlc.org.
By Darian Armer, Raised in the Rockies