Combat Summer Learning Loss – Use Stealth to Help Kids Retain Knowledge

By Teresa Latchford –

Suggesting your child open a text-book during summer vacation might make you the subject of hysterical laughter. But many parents share concern about summer learning loss, especially after 39 studies revealed students’ summer learning loss is equal to at least one month of instruction. “This work also showed that summer learning loss is more pronounced for mathematics-related subjects than for reading or language arts, most likely because many students continue reading over the summer, but few of them practice their math skills,” certified teacher, tutor and author Stuart Ackerman said.

While students tend to forget about school once the final bell rings, parents can use stealth to help their children retain reading, writing and math skills without breaking open a text-book throughout the summer, he added.

Mr Ackerman encourages parents to recognize and use their child’s interests, for example, video games, to their advantage. Consider purchasing a video game guide, a book that’s usually several hundred pages long and contains text about game strategy, to improve reading and writing skills. “Get your child to read the entire game guide and have him or her write down a plan on winning the game based on what was read,” he said.

Use the newspaper that’s already delivered to your door to work on reading comprehension. Start off with a section in which your child is interested, such as sports or entertainment, and have your child read it aloud. After that, discuss the article to help your child draw conclusions from it.

Keep maps and a globe around the house so your child can make connections between world events in the newspaper, online or on TV and their locations. “I purchased placemats of the world for my kids,” Mr. Ackerman said. “At dinner time, my children often read their placemat maps and have a good understanding of world geography.”

Forget the math worksheets; use everyday activities to help your child explore math. Have your child calculate the discounts offered the next time you receive coupons in the mail. For example, a stick of butter may cost $1.75, but the coupon is two sticks on sale for $3. Have your child figure out how much you would save.

Try turning to the sports section in the paper for decimals and geometry. Baseball is a great tool during summer to start the sport and math connection, he added. Your child can practice division skills by figuring out winning percentages and you can use all the geometric shapes on a baseball field to teach younger children.

For a hands-on experience, get your children in the kitchen. Baking is not only a great family activity, but the use of measuring cups and spoons will help children work with fractions. Have your children explore with measuring cups when following a recipe, such as two half cups fit into the one cup measuring cup, Mr. Ackerman said.

To incorporate some math-based learning into family time, consider using a traditional board game such as Monopoly.

Five Social Skills That Are Important for Kindergarten

1. Skill: Understands the difference between right and wrong and recognizes and respects authority figures.
Why It’s Important:  For many children, until they begin kindergarten, the only authority figures to whom they are truly accountable are Mom and Dad (or other caregivers).  That changes once school starts.  All of a sudden there are many rules, many people enforcing those rules and significant consequences for breaking the rules.  An understanding of right and wrong helps students understand that the rules help the classroom community to run smoothly.

2. Skill:  Can communicate needs and feelings verbally in a socially appropriate manner and understands/recognizes that other people have feelings.
Why It’s Important:  Though it may seem as though kindergarten is quickly becoming more and more academic, one of its most important functions is to teach children how to socially interact with others.  Children who continue to express anger and frustration by hitting, yelling and throwing objects will not only have a difficult time making their needs understood, but may socially isolate themselves as well.  Knowing that there are more productive ways to express themselves and that what they say and do affects other people plays a key role in making friends and being a part of the learning community.

3. Skill:  Can play independently or in a small group without needing to be constantly supervised.
Why It’s Important:  With twenty-some children in a classroom, all of whom learn in different ways and at different rates, it’s not possible for a kindergarten teacher to supervise every individual child all at the same time.  As kindergarten progresses, group and independent work time is increased and children need to be able to work on their own without constant redirection.  Not only does this prepare a child for future schooling, but it also helps to build a sense of accomplishment and an understanding that he is an individual capable of doing things all by himself.

4. Skill:  Is beginning to take turns, share, converse and play nicely with other children without needing to be reminded and uses polite language.
Why It’s Important:  Just as a kindergarten teacher can’t supervise all students individually, she rarely can afford to provide one of everything for each student.  Your child will be learning to share materials, manipulatives, toys and attention this year.  He’ll need to be able to do so gracefully, without being bossy or rude.

5. Skill:  Likes to make decisions for himself, explore new things and take some (safe) risks.
Why It’s Important:  One of the most common problems that arises as the new school year begins is separation anxiety, or difficulty stepping into a new environment while leaving caregivers behind.  This anxiety is less prominent in children who enjoy a challenge and are willing to take a few risks.  Additionally, children who are curious about exploring new things are ripe learners, eager to see what each new activity and lesson holds.