Parenting Perspective: Making Summer Count

Monday, April 26, 2010

Researchers agree that during the summer season children often lose ground in "school learning".

Althier Lazar, PhD, is the Chair of the Teacher Education Department at St. Joseph's University. She says kids do continue to learn through everyday experiences, but can lose some important skills that are measured in formal education. This accumulates over the years and can make a significant difference by 9th grade.

Dr. Althier Lazar says we should pursue education over the summer, but we need to be careful that it does not "look like" school. Enrichment over the summer should include a lot of choice. Kids rarely get to choose which books to read or which task to do during the school year. Over the summer, Dr. Lazar suggests you take them to their public library. Let them choose whichever book they like. The kids know what interests them and what's too hard! Don't bother asking them to write comprehension questions, but you might want to engage in conversation over dinner and ask them what they're reading.

It surprised me to learn that Dr. Lazar suggests books on tape or CD! (I thought that was cheating!) But, the point is to increase their language skills and broaden their vocabulary and books on tape my just peak their interest. I'm a flashcard mom and Dr. Lazar said put them away over the summer and try to make learning more organic. Use everyday experiences as enrichment opportunities.

What should you do right now? Make your final conference count. Your child's teacher is your best resource. Teachers know your child's strengths and weaknesses. Ask the teachers what exercises they recommend and what skills could be improved. If you choose to have a tutor, try an older child in the school system. Your child would probably enjoy hanging out with a mentor and may not even realize you're sneaking in some learning!

Finally, don't forget the rich opportunities right in our own backyard. We're so lucky in this region to have such wonderful museums and libraries.

Below are a few links for some ideas:

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