Parents are hoping their children don’t succumb to the “summer slide,” when students forget much of what they learned, losing as much as three months of math and reading skills over the summer, according to the National Summer Learning Association. This can make starting up again in the fall as dreaded as those final exams.
Over the summer students experience a loss of the academic gains they made over the previous year called the summer slide. Our brains really are like muscles, and when we don’t exercise them, they tend to lose their form. Math formulas are forgotten, new vocabulary lost and the summer slide puts students a little further back each year.
Ron and Lynda Bates, owners of a local Tutor Doctor, a fast-growing private tutoring franchise worldwide providing a personalized, one-to-one, in-home tutoring service to students of all ages, provides the following tips and ideas for activities that are fun and simultaneously build important life skills, including organization, time management and goal-setting.
· Fundraising for Next School Year. Fundraising can really make a difference to the quality of education that your child gets. Whether fundraising enables them to enjoy fascinating field trips, better meals, better facilities and equipment, or more teachers, fund raising helps to alleviate the dire financial burden placed on our schools by reductions in government funding. Try a short fun run where students, parents and community members can participate. For a small entrance fee, participants get to run the set course while being chased by a zombie horde of students. Students will love dressing up as zombies and chasing participants in the race, and keeping track of the money being raised will help with math skills.
· Eat Locally. Take a trip to your local farmer’s market where kids can learn about where their food comes from, the resources needed to grow the food, and which foods are in season. Parents can turn the trip into a scavenger hunt by giving students a list of fruits and vegetables to find at the market, encouraging them to identify which fruit is ripe enough to be picked and how to handle food safely for the trip home.
· Explore the Real World. Visit local zoos, botanical gardens, or any place in your community where kids can see and learn about new things. Encourage them to bring a journal and record observations with a drawing or a brief description. Later, take the time to search the Internet or read wildlife books to learn more about the plants, rocks and animals they discovered throughout the day.
· Plan a Summer Outing. Get kids involved with the planning and organization that goes into hosting a family gathering, barbeque or picnic. From the start to finish, kids can make the guest list, design and send out invitations, keep track of RSVPs, choose the venue, activities and menu. If you’re going to the pool, have them choose the best day/time to go, put together a list of supplies needed, and plan an agenda for the day.
· Get Busy in the Kitchen. Involve your child in meal planning and cooking, which reinforce the importance of following directions, sorting ingredients, and managing time — all key elements in organization. Challenge them to help put together a shopping list containing everything needed to prepare that dish, help shop for ingredients, and act as the “head chef.” Once the meal is prepared, ask them to rate the meal and share what they learned during the process.
· Develop a new skill. Encourage your child to learn a musical instrument or speak a foreign language. Set them up with realistic goals for the summer and have them spend just a couple of hours every day acquiring a new skill. New skills need not cost lots of money; if you don’t have the cash for lessons, there are plenty of resources online. Friends and family members can help teach special skills they have. Choosing something to keep your student busy this summer can really help develop them as a person. Planning ahead is key so you have all the resources you need.
· Geocaching Like a Pirate. This is a wonderful international game that’s much like a treasure hunt, where participants create “geocaches,” which are small treasure chests that contain a log book so you can record your name and when you found it. Participants typically use GPS devices to find the geocaches, whose coordinates, along with some clues, can be found on geocaching websites. Some geocaches contain items that you can swop, such as flashlights, stationary, compasses, etc. Sometimes you can take an item but must then leave an item. Some geocaches are scavenger hunts and you need to solve the riddle to find the next cache. You can even get math geocache scavenger hunts if you want an educational experience. To find the GPS coordinates of geocaches in your area, visit this website: https://www.geocaching.com/play
· Reading for Rewards. Take them to a bookstore or a library and get them some books they’ll enjoy reading, or have them participate in a librarian curated reading program, such as Tutor Doctor’s Summer Reading Challenge. (Librarians have curated a collection of 60 books appropriate for various reading levels for the Tutor Doctor Reading Challenge, which also includes fun-to-answer worksheets to complete. Young readers have the option to provide responses to their Tutor Doctor tutor, if they have one and desire to do so. Participants who enroll and complete the challenge are eligible to win prizes from their local Tutor Doctors at the end of the program.)