P.A.L.’s Top 10 Recommendations to Prevent Summer Learning Loss:
#1- Attend The P.A.L. Workshop’s Preventing Summer Slide session on May 21, 2013 at The Anderson School. We’ll learn strategies from the experts and have hands-on opportunities to see how we can put the knowledge into action with literacy, math and even Mind Sport activities.
#2- Summer Reading, Family Style. Make reading a family ordeal, and whether it’s a novel, newspaper, poem, movie review, or other form of writing, model good reading habits. I’ll always remember the beginning of The Princess Bride movie as ‘gramps’ read the story to his sick grandchild. With that nostalgic memory in mind, I set out each summer to tackle a great big read as part of a self-assigned, summer mother-daughter reading project. And when we’re not reading together at bedtime, we’re reading side-by-side under canopy in the sunshine, on the sofa on a rainy day-instead of hooked to a device, or reading aloud on the floor together.
#3- Library Summer Reading Lists & Local Book Readings. Libraries are a great way to enjoy a rainy day and expose your child to poetry, non-fiction, humor and other genres or writing that may not be in your own book collection or likely picks at your local bookstore. Be sure to have your child select texts that interest him or her- and try non-fiction and other options that relate to that same interest area so they can see how varied reading materials can be. If your child is like mine- a one trick pony- or rather, kitty- when it comes to book subject matter, encourage your child to try new topics and select at least a couple books that depart from typical subject matter. And books are great, but seeing your child’s favorite book author reading at a nearby bookstore can be inspiring. Or have your own mock Book Reading at home, and have each family member read a passage he or she wrote, or invite friends over to share their favorite poems, books or writings.
#4- Assessing Strengths & Areas of Improvement. Discuss with your child some of their perceived strength areas and areas for improvement. Rather than tell them what ‘weaknesses’ you see, have them think about areas that they may have struggled in during the school year. Brainstorm together ways to improve that by practicing during the summer. That can include reading together to improve reading skills, or journal writing assignments to improve penmanship, or math exercises and games to practice math concepts or learn times tables, for example. Make a list and chip away at it during the summer months. Consider an informal pre- and post-assessment activity at the beginning and end of the summer to show them what progress they’ve made.
#5-Set Summer Goals & Work Together Living in NYC, it’s easy to find excuses to put things off, like teaching our kids how to ride a bike. But have each family member make a list of 3-5 goals they want to accomplish this summer and present it at a family dinner. Consider ways to achieve those goals and an actionable list to make the goal achievable. And consider goals you may want for your child, such as teaching them to ride a bike or tying those shoelaces since all their shoes from birth to seven have been velcro closures!
#6- Educational Family Outings & Trips. Don’t do all the planning yourself, have your child or family help plan summer outings together. Use online and traditional resources to determine your sightseeing agenda like local museums or a favorite ice cream factory. Go to the tourist bureau in person and have your child go through the brochures reading about the activities and places of interest. Map out the path together and then take a local train trip. As you plan, talk about the concepts- distance, time, history, geography, wildlife, and other potential educational topics.
#7- Family Ventures & Game Night. Year round, consider having a weekly game night, which of course doubles as dedicated family time. Whether your playing board games, cards, or other fun activities, there are so many ways to incorporate math and science concepts and word play. For example, see our math game recommendations. And don’t limit yourself to existing games, make up your own, or get outside and encourage entrepreneurial ventures that benefit the entire family like a family organized garage sale, a lemonade stand or a donation drive. Model the possibilities for your child and have them help in the planning stages of the venture too. Seeing and being a part of the idea, the planning stages and the execution can be a great learning experience.
#8- Movie Night & Dine Arounds. Movies aren’t just a way to pass the time, they can be a great way to compare literature and film with kids. Make a point of reading the book before going to see a film based on the book and it always provides a lot of opportunity to discuss, compare and contrast. We’re big fans of Common Sense Media to help find the most appropriate movies and other content for children, including books, apps, games, tv, music and more. Dining out or having friends and family ‘Dine Arounds’ are also a great opportunity for learning, whether it’s the social skills practice from connecting with other parents and children, or learning about other cultures, traditions, customs, languages or foods, consider them another great summer learning opportunity.And the same goes for local restaurants, have your family choose a different cuisine each outing and compare similarities and differences in food ingredients, preparations and presentations.
#9- ‘Show & Tell’ or ‘Present & Persuade’. You are never too old for Show & Tell, unless maybe you’re a teen or tween, then you can rename it ‘Present & Persuade.’ But sharing a favorite collection or body of knowledge with others can be fun and offer opportunities for developing and improving self confidence, self-esteem, presentation skills, debate and persuasion skills, and more. So find excuses to turn a family dinner or evening together into Show & Tell time.
#10-Share your Story with Your Children. Take advantage of time off this summer and learn about each other. Share stories of your youth and invite grandparents, uncles and aunts to share their stories with the kids. Share your hobbies, musical loves and other favorite activities with your child. Build a boxcar; volunteer together for a favorite charity of your child’s choice, start a collection together or take your child to a dog show, a car show or a stamp show to see how hobbies can be supported. Create a Family Mission Statement and talk about what values you share as a family, and what your vision is for your family and next generations. Work on a Family Manifesto or have family members find a quote that they identify with that can be a mantra for your family to live by.
And be sure to check out another list on Preventing Summer Learning Loss that I recommend from the Washington Post. Author Marina Koestler Ruben, “How to Tutor Your Own Child: Boost Grades and Inspire a Lifelong Love of Learning — Without Paying for a Professional Tutor,” shares her tips on summertime learning that include: Explore, Read, Solve, Build, Sightsee, Move, Ask, Cook, Collect & Volunteer.