The words “Schools Out For Summer” strike joy into the hearts of children and often a sigh of relief for parents who are just as eager to take a break from homework as their progeny. However taking a complete break from the books for the entire summer can be problematic.
Studies have shown that children forget between 1 and 3 months of school during the summer vacation. While reading is the least effected, the most impacted subjects are spelling and math. Obviously it is important for children to have time to play and relax — to just enjoy being kids during the summer. Children should not be pushed into a high-pressure study schedule over summer vacation. But parents can take steps to slow down that loss of knowledge and erosion of skills.
First and foremost, keep children reading over the summer but try to work in some nonfiction as well as fiction onto the reading list. Take a lesson from many experienced teachers and pick a few spelling words from the books children are reading. Perhaps tie test results into some special summer reward and you will have eagerly awaited spelling bees.
Writing is one skill that often erodes during summer, but you can give children a writing journal and a weekly goal. They can write about whatever you think will interest your child. They can report on their baseball games, make up elaborate games, or simply report on the books they are reading. There are lots of great writing prompts out there for kids if you run dry of ideas. It does not matter so much what your child writes so long as they spend time writing so they can work on handwriting skills as well as keep in the groove of putting words on paper. One easy writing prompt is to have the child describe people, places, objects, pets and other animals, insects, and games. Lists are another easy writing prompt — favorite things, worst things, etc. Then on another day you can use those descriptions and lists to generate another writing prompt.
Math skills might seem the hardest thing to work on during summer but in fact these can be the easiest. Math does not have to come out of a book and you can easily work a lot of math lessons into those long car rides or plane trips as you go on a family vacation. Try counting car headlights (counting by 2s) as you drive or fingers in a restaurant or plane (counting by 5s). Find various shapes around the house and then trace them to create yet more complex forms. Get the kids involved in cooking and learning about measurements. Give the kids a ruler and notebook and tell them to measure various objects around the house. Empty out your pocket change and have the kids sort it and create word problems with the coins.