Summer Learning Tips for Parents

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Our summer issue of Connections is on its way to parents.

Research reinforces what educators have long known and practiced – summer reading and learning makes a difference in preparedness for the next school year, especially for urban children from less affluent communities for whom access to summer learning opportunities plays a large role. Summer setback is a very real problem for children who don’t “work” their brains throughout the summer and keep them conditioned to learning.

It is so important for your child to retain the skills they worked so hard to learn during the school year. This summer, to help ensure your child is ready for their next grade, resolve to work with him or her a little every day.


Summer Reading

According to Scholastic, the global children’s publishing, education and media company, learning or reading skill losses during the summer months are cumulative, creating a wider gap each year between more proficient and less proficient students. By the time a struggling reader reaches middle school, summer reading loss has accumulated to a two-year lag in reading achievement.

Regardless of ethnicity, socioeconomic level or previous achievement, children who read four or more books during the summer fare better on reading comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one book or none over the summer.


Building Good Reading Habits at Home

Help young children develop a love of reading:

  • Read with your child every day.
  • Read your child’s favorite book over and over again.
  • Read stories with rhyming words and lines that repeat. Invite your child to join in, and point word by word as he or she reads along with you.
  • Point to each word to help your child learn that reading goes from left to right and to help your child understand that the words you say are the words you see.
  • Talk about the meanings of familiar and new words.
  • Visit the library weekly.

Tips for older children:

  • Limit TV time and enjoy the outside. Read in fun places; poolside, on a blanket in the grass, on the porch.
  • Pick up comic books. Build a renewed interest in reading with comic books this summer.
  • Buddy up: Pick out books for your kids to read together with their friends for fun and a shared experience.
  • Develop routines for everyday reading. Encourage reading before bedtime.
  • Read everywhere: street signs, billboards and anything else you can find while you’re on the go this summer.
  • Provide a variety of reading materials (magazines, directions for games, project/how-to books, arts & crafts, cookbooks, sci-fi, library books).
  • Learn a new word each week. Hang it on the fridge and see who can use it the most times during the week.
  • Create a book club. Make reading social with a summer book club for kids.

Ways to help with comprehension: Talk about books!

  • Tell me what you are reading about.
  • What does the book make you think of? (Connections to self, another book or something going on in the world)
  • What can you tell me about the characters? (fiction)
  • Recap: What has happened so far?
  • What was your favorite part? (fiction)
  • Can you tell me 3 things you learned from reading this? (non-fiction)
  • What did you find most interesting or most surprising? (non-fiction)
  • What does this book make you wonder about? (non-fiction)


Help Your Child Develop a Love of Writing

  • Take pictures and make a summer scrapbook. Encourage your children to write narratives accompanying the pictures.
  • Show them how much you love it when they write for you (shopping list, notes, etc.).
  • Do not spell words for them. Instead, have your child “stretch out the word” to hear the sounds in the words.
  • Keep a journal. Encourage kids to stay sharp in their writing by keeping a journal.
  • Fun ways to practice writing:
    • Grocery lists, thank-you cards and notes, birthday cards, letters to faraway family members, diary of special events, summer journal, draw and label pictures
  • Help your child develop fine motor skills (strong hands and fingers) to help them write well by coloring and writing, cutting, doing puzzles, building with small blocks, putting coins in a piggybank.


Help Your Child Retain Math Skills: Simple activities are part of your daily routine

Primary Grades (K-2)

  • Count with your child. Count anything and everything.
  • Ask questions like “What number comes after 3?” and “What number comes before 6?”
  • When you’re doing activities together, ask “How many more?” and “How many less?” questions.  (We have three forks. How many more do we need for dinner?)
  • Play “Find the shape.” Wherever you happen to be, ask your child to find things shaped like a triangle, square, rectangle, rhombus, trapezoid or hexagon.
  • Talk about time using the clock.
  • Talk about the day. (Today is Thursday. What day will it be tomorrow?)
  • Solve problems together. (We have 24 cookies and we want to share them with everyone in the room. How many does each person get?)
  • Look for patterns together.
  • Talk about more, less and equal.
  • Look at things and compare them. (Which building is taller? Is your hair longer or shorter than mine?)
  • Play One More, One Less. (Choose any number. Ask your child to name or show you one more or one less. You can also play this game with two more, two less or other numbers.)
  • Play with money.
  • Estimate. (Ask your child, “How many do you think there are?” Then count them.)
  • Talk about fractions. When you cut a cake or pizza or anything, ask your child “How much is this?”
  • Measure household items with your child using a ruler or measuring tape.


Intermediate Grades (3-5)

  • Practice multiplication tables.
  • Teach your child to solve equations by taking numbers apart and “chunking” parts together: 379-230 is 300+70+9 minus 200+30.
  • Play “Find the shape” with 3-D shapes (rectangular prism, triangular prism, cone, sphere, pyramid, cylinder.)
  • Get your child a clock or watch. Talk about being on time and what time things will be done.
  • If you have access to the Internet, you can find great math games and web sites that explain math concepts. Google “math games” and select the grade or age level.

Educational Fun at Home

  • Cook with your children. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. Help your child to combine their favorite recipes into a cookbook.
  • Plant a garden. Your child will gain responsibility and pride as they watch their plants grow and thrive.
  • Play board games to build thinking skills. Play quick games with flashcards like War or Concentration to keep math skills sharp.
  • Do art projects.
  • Play sidewalk chalk games. Play hopscotch and counting games, fill the driveway with times table grids or a huge clock.
  • Track daily temperatures and make accompanying charts or graphs for the week and/or month.
  • Start a business: Encourage children to make paper airplanes, flower barrettes, rock pets, or lemonade and cookies and host a sale for friends and neighbors.


Field Trips for Families!

There are numerous family-friendly ways you can encourage your child to keep learning and exploring this summer. In addition to the ideas below, please see our section on programs at the Providence Community Library and the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

  • Plan a weekly outing to the library with your children. Select a book that they can read, and model behavior for them by choosing a book for yourself.
  • Visit fun local sites like the Roger Williams Park Zoo, Museum of Natural History, Planetarium or Botanical Center, where children can explore science, new concepts and vocabulary
  • The Providence Historical Society has walking tours that let you learn about your city’s own history.
  • The RISD Museum of Art is a great way to occupy a rainy afternoon.
  • The Providence Children’s Museum offers a variety of exhibits for hands-on learning for younger children.
  • For older children, a short drive or bus trip to experience other local sites like the Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket or the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace in Saunderstown can provide a history lesson.
  • If you have a full day to spend, take the train to Boston where you can walk the Freedom Trail, visit the New England Aquarium or the Boston Museum of Science, stroll Quincy Market and soak up the history of the city. Regardless of what your time or resources may allow, every investment in time spent with your child on educational activities will engage them and increase their chances of academic success in the upcoming school year.   

Note: Some of the information used for this issue was compiled by Jennifer Walker, literacy coach at Leviton Dual Language Academy. It is sourced from Scholastic and from a variety of other resources. Many thanks to Jennifer and other teachers who’ve worked to provide this type of information to families!

Enjoy your time together this summer!