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Keeping Learning Skills Sharp During the Summer: Five Ways to Do It

Summer can be a time of relaxation, fun, and long, lazy days in the sun. It’s also an opportunity to keep kids’ skills fresh and to minimize measurable loss of academic and learning skills, known as ‘summer learning loss,’ during out-of-school time. Here are five ways to help your child to make the most of holiday time while keeping skills sharp:

Schedule it: Keeping a daily or weekly schedule in place that builds in both downtime and activities need not be confining for families. Scheduling can facilitate planning ahead for parents, keep a sense of reliable routine in place (especially important for children who may struggle during unstructured time), and build excitement and anticipation about upcoming events.  Parents and children/teens can work together to build a plan that’s right for them.

Read (and write) all about it: Summer holidays are the perfect time to catch up on reading and to read together. Gather recommendations from your local librarian, children’s reading lists, or from friends and family and compile a list of must-read material geared to interest, age group, and reading level. Converse about the characters and themes, and encourage children to extend the story through their own writing or recordings. Pick out a colourful notebook and encourage your child to document summer memories in words and pictures. Build keyboarding skills. Encourage written or e-mail correspondence with friends or relatives.

Connect with culture: Children gain a wealth of knowledge through direct exposure to activities and experiences in the community. Visiting museums and historical landmarks, participating in hands-on activities, arts, and crafts, joining camps and clubs, and volunteering are just a few routes to helping children discover and develop interests, learn new skills, and build social connections during the summer months.  Model curiosity and inquiry by engaging children in conversations about their experiences. Help them to ‘go deep’ in areas of special interest through research and practice steps.

Do the math: Opportunities to build numeracy skills are all around us. Counting landmarks during road trips, figuring out change during shopping errands, and comparing quantities, proportions, and part-whole relationships while cooking and baking provide opportunities to build math skills using everyday, readily available tools and activities.

Team up, and play around: Athletic teams offer students of all levels of ability the opportunity to participate in shared goals with peers, set personal goals for performance, engage in practice, and learn to manage the highs and lows of competition, all skills transferable to the academic setting (and other aspects of daily life).

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