Summer shouldn t be a time for academic backsliding, but summer learning doesn't have to be a chore for children or their parents, says Brenda McLaughlin, director of research and policy at the Center for Summer Learning at The Johns Hopkins University. In fact, favorite summer pastimes like backyard cookouts and trips to the beach are always opportunities to learn something new.
"Summer is an excellent time for informal education such as trips to museums, public libraries, and parks," McLaughlin says. "All parents can involve their children in fun, everyday activities such as cooking a new recipe or shopping at the local supermarket. These activities can help students practice their math skills, for example."
The center offers a few simple suggestions to foster summertime learning:
Reading and Writing
Math and Science
Keeping young minds busy with activities such as these is imperative during the summer months to ward off "summer learning loss," or forgetting important skills and knowledge that they don't use when school is out. Students who take a break from reading during the summer score lower on tests at the end of their vacation than they did on the same test at the beginning of the summer. Typically, students lose one to two months worth of reading and math skills during summer break, and teachers often spend four to six weeks at the beginning of each school year re-teaching material that students have forgotten.
"How children spend their time outside of school is critically important to their academic success," McLaughlin says. "During the school year, parents help their children succeed by checking their homework, reading to and with their children, and limiting the amount of time they watch television and play video games. Children need similar types of academic support during the summer. Regardless of which program or activity parents chose for their children, parents play a critical role in nurturing their children's natural curiosity to learn new concepts, skills, and information — during the summer and throughout the school year."
To speak with McLaughlin, contact Amy Cowles at 443-287-9960 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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