About this time each year, parents whose children attend schools with a traditional calendar experience a sudden rush of anxiety. Summer vacation is rapidly approaching (often times parents are unaware the school year is “ending so quickly”). Once it sinks in how quickly they will be thrust into more of a role of facilitator, they begin to repeatedly ask themselves, “What am I going to do with these kids when school ends?!” What seems to be a looming nightmare is actually not such a bad thing. However, it will take some planning and consistency to changes one’s thoughts from nightmare to smooth sailing. The following are some tips to make the 3 month summer vacation fun as well as educational (avoiding the ever present disease named "Brain Drain" which is most prevalent during the months of June, July and August).
1. Let your child know that just because school is closed for 3 months doesn’t mean learning cannot and/or should not take place. Inform them that learning takes place outside of the classroom as well.
2. Create a schedule of school work and leisure activities. It has become somewhat commonplace that students receive “Summer Packets” that contain work to be done periodically throughout the summer to keep their skills sharp. These summer packets generally contain Math, Language Arts and instructions regarding how much reading should be done.
3. Be sure to hold your child accountable for completing the school work on a weekly basis to avoid trying to finish three months of work during the week before the first day of school. Establish consequences for not completing the work as planned while creating the schedule.
4. Have your child spend 30 minutes reading at least 5 times per week. Have them keep a journal of everything they read. There is no need to write several pages for each entry but to stay in the habit of writing down one’s thoughts about what they have read (good or bad).
5. Take time to use “life” as a chance for your child to apply the mathematical skills and concepts They have learned in school. Remind them that “Math Is Everywhere”.
• Calculating the cost of items at grocery/drug store, etc. (estimating)
• Calculating the tip after a meal (percent)
• Measuring for a simple home project (i.e. shelving paper)
• Calculating area and perimeter using household items (i.e. find the perimeter of a picture frame)
• Elapsed time (for trips via car, plane, or train)
• Calculating price of a merchandise discount (percent)
• Estimating how many gallons of gas can be purchased with $30.00 (estimating)
6. Have discussions about topics that may interest your child. Current events as well as events taking place in your community. Ask them questions that require critical thinking and a thoughtful responses. This will help them begin to answer questions intelligently.
Good luck to you, and enjoy the summer!