Experts offer tips to prevent children's learning loss during summer

Jun 12, 2013

With school out and a long summer break ahead, many children are in danger of forgetting what they've learned during the academic year.

UT experts are offering tips on how children can stay sharp and exercise their brain muscles during the hot summer months.

"Learning over the summer does not have to be stressful or laborious," said Matt Devereaux, an associate professor in the Department of Family and in UT's Institute of Agriculture.

Research shows that the biggest impact on student academic achievement is made when families engage in learning activities that reflect the work children do in school, he said, noting that "the summer break is an excellent opportunity for parents to reinforce their children's learning and help prepare them for the year ahead."

Here are ten tips to help children have enjoyable educational summer experiences:

Open a book

Children who don't read during the summer lose an average of three months of reading growth. But children who read gain about a month, said Dick Allington, a professor of literacy studies and one of the nation's leading authorities on summer reading loss.

"Imagine you're a hockey coach and your players go all summer and they're never on the ice. Do you expect them to come back in the fall playing the same way?" he said. "It's the same with reading."

Allington noted that 80 percent of the reading between middle- to upper-income children and economically disadvantaged children accumulates during the summer. He encourages parents to regularly buy books for their children or borrow them from the library.

Join a summer reading club

Devereaux noted that local libraries and bookstores often have summer reading programs. Children can track the number of books read and amount of time spent reading to accumulate points and qualify for prizes. If age-appropriate, children chart progress themselves. The programs are often free and they frequently have incentives to help get children started on reading during the summer.

Journal daily

Encourage children to write in a personal journal each day during the summer. Allow them to be creative and also give them journal prompts. Include questions like "In what ways are snowflakes like people?" "Are you more like thunder or lightning?" and "If you could be an ocean animal, which one would you be and why?"

Promote the correct use of grammar and monitor spelling mistakes by using the dictionary and thesaurus.

Write a pen pal

Whether your child has a friend who has moved or one right next door, suggest that they become pen pals. They will enjoy writing letters and sharing ideas and experiences during the summer. Encourage them to write about topics that interest them, such as video games, sports, and vacations.

Get a magazine subscription

Subscribe to an age-appropriate magazine centered around your children's activities and interests. Do not pick the magazine for them. Instead, encourage them to be part of the search process. Since magazine subscriptions tend to extend beyond the summer months, they can impact children positively for an entire year.

Play learning games

Games can be simple ones that you make up and play with your child. You also can buy learning games online and in educational stores. Many games that are just for fun can be turned into learning games with a simple variation. Be creative. Even simple things like doing the dishes, playing ring toss, or buying groceries can be used as a fun lesson.

Enroll children in a summer math program

Summer learning programs can be very convenient and flexible. Children should have time to play during the summer, but their brains should also be kept active. A good program will allow flexibility in time schedules as well as a customized learning process with which both you and your child will be comfortable.

Take educational family trips

Camping, taking a nature hike, and visiting a local zoo or museum are all educational family trips. Children can exercise their brain muscles by taking time to point out animals, plants, and exhibits. If there are information plaques or guides, read those with your child. Better yet, have your child can read them to you.

Use a tutor

Enlist the help of a tutor who can make learning fun in a one-on-one interactive environment.

"This ensures a consistent educational enrichment and prevents the loss of skills that were hard earned the previous school year," Devereaux said.

Keep it fun!

It shouldn't all be about worksheets or reviewing flashcards. also should go swimming, ride their bikes, and play baseball.

"Physical activity is important for developing well-rounded kids," Devereaux said. "It contributes to their overall health as well as their ability to focus."

Explore further: Why plants in the office make us more productive

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Keeping kids' minds sharp during summer break

Jun 18, 2007

School is out for the summer, but with parents' help, informal summer learning can be "in" with kids. Simple, low-cost steps like turning off the TV and visiting the local public library or nature center can introduce children ...

British children's on-screen reading overtakes books

May 16, 2013

For the first time, British children are reading more on computers and other electronic devices than they are reading books, magazines, newspapers and comics, according to a study of nearly 35,000 youngsters ...

Recommended for you

Precarious work schedules common among younger workers

Aug 29, 2014

One wish many workers may have this Labor Day is for more control and predictability of their work schedules. A new report finds that unpredictability is widespread in many workers' schedules—one reason ...

Girls got game

Aug 29, 2014

Debi Taylor has worked in everything from construction development to IT, and is well and truly socialised into male-dominated workplaces. So when she found herself the only female in her game development ...

Computer games give a boost to English

Aug 28, 2014

If you want to make a mark in the world of computer games you had better have a good English vocabulary. It has now also been scientifically proven that someone who is good at computer games has a larger ...

Saddam Hussein—a sincere dictator?

Aug 28, 2014

Are political speeches manipulative and strategic? They could be – when politicians say one thing in public, and privately believe something else, political scientists say. Saddam Hussein's legacy of recording private discussions ...

User comments : 0