A Message to Share with Parents about Summer Learning
It’s important that parents know how important summer is as a time for learning …they need to know that it’s vital for children’s continuing success in school. Here are ways to get that message across to parents, and specific activities you can suggest they do with their kids this summer.
It’s important that parents know how important summer is as a time for learning …. And it’s vital for children’s continuing success in school.
What’s different about summer learning?
How can every family help ensure that children do not backslide during the long hiatus from school – with easy to do, effective home activities?
Summer is no time to backslide. This happens to many children. Instead summer is the time to build and expand on the work of the school and to do it in at-home ways. Every parent can do it!
In this column, I share examples of activities to share with parents and grandparents. Teachers reading these will add their good ideas and suggest that parents and children use their own imagination and creativity to keep summer learning on track.
Home is where we do the activities that I write about. What I encourage others to do, I do myself. Every week, my grandsons (ages 6 and 8) and I teach and learn… in the kitchen, in the yard, in the car, wherever we happen to be, using whatever we have with us. I believe in strengthening academics not by using materials that come packaged at the store. Reading, writing, math are organic in the world around us. Summer is a great time to build the connections for children to the academics in the world, not just in the classroom.
Activities teachers can share with parents:
In the car, check out all the signs at the side of the road. Read signs together. Count them. Talk about the sign shapes and colors. No basal reader can compete.
Notice. We go on around the block walks, each person carrying paper bags, to be filled with treasures. At first, it’s anything that appeals, a leaf, a smooth stone, a sharp stick. Next do alphabet walks. Find or identify something that starts with A, all the way to Z.
Last summer, we planted a tomato plant and watched it grow, watering it, caring for it, measuring, picking the fruit of the vine, knowing that’s it our work that made this miracle happen.
Do carpentry, nailing boards together into designs, measuring them, making designs, writing all over them for posterity.
Send each other notes, room to room, getting the joy of receiving a response almost immediately. Dial relatives and friends on the telephone, with children reading the numbers and making the telephone connection on their own. Cut sandwiches into a variety of shapes and fold napkins into intricate fractions. In short, every house, every neighborhood, is a mecca for learning.
Last summer was especially sweet. With the six year old, who has had some listening problems, we played Listen and Do. It’s an old classic, ever new. You give three or more directions. The child listens and then follows them: “Walk slowly to the kitchen. Pick up the kitchen towel. Bring it back. Walk fast to the living room.” Then we exchange who gives directions. My grandson was delighted to tell me what to do and found that he had to correct some of Grandma’s mistakes.
With the eight year old, we opened a big map. I am a great lover of maps and now he is too. Maps of the world and the USA hang at his house and in mine. We opened the state map of California. Earlier that week, I was supposed to have gone on a trip through the state with my brother. That trip fizzled out. But here came the chance to do the trip via map with my grandson.
With marker in his hand, we went from city to city, figuring out how far we traveled, what the map legend markings meant. He found the railroad that bordered the Ocean.
This was a wonderful experience, not just because he was learning the intricacies of the map but because I felt this sense of passing on to him a joy about maps that I have always felt. This is the joy every parent and grandparent can feel. It was an intergenerational moment.
The message is this: Parents and Grandparents. Give the gift of your time. Don’t bother to go the store for one more toy. Save your money. Bring yourself and your ideas. Pleasure and learning are right there in front of an around you. Create your magic moments. They don’t come packaged in a box.
Summer home learning, regardless of whether the home is fancy or humble, can be memorable even when days are hectic. When teachers send home booklists for summer reading, it’s a good time to remind parents that some of the so-called small experiences at home with children are the most significant for a child’s development and education.
Note: Teachers.Net readers will find printable activities useful for summer learning at my website: www.megaskills.org---free activities.
Dr. Dorothy Rich is founder and president of the nonprofit Home and School Institute, MegaSkills Education Center in Washington. She is the author of MegaSkills and developer of the MegaSkills Teacher Training Programs. For additional information:” www.MegaSkillsHSI.org.