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(BPT) - After many months of learning through the school year, kids are understandably ready for summer vacation. But hitting pause on academics can cause significant challenges when returning to school in the fall. Some children lose the equivalent of one month of learning over the summer and “slide” back in math, reading and other skills.
How can you help your children retain what they’ve learned or even increase their skills over the summer months? There are many ways to prevent learning loss that won’t disrupt those lazy days of summer. Fun for your kids and you, here are some strategies to keep learning going throughout summer vacation:
1. Use an effective online learning curriculum.
When information is presented in a highly engaging way, children want to learn. ABCmouse.com Early Learning Academy is a comprehensive digital education resource for children ages 2–8 with a wealth of effective learning activities. Available on PC, tablet and smartphone, it helps build a foundation for academic success while still being extremely fun for kids.
The incredible variety of activities on ABCmouse, from animated videos to interactive games, makes children eager to discover new things to learn and do. Guided by a Step-by-Step Learning Path, they are rewarded as they progress and are motivated to continue. Kids can also take learning on-the-go and experience all the captivating content in ABCmouse wherever they may be, including puzzles, an expansive digital library and more.
Even a little engagement each day can make a difference over summer break. A recent study found that children who completed approximately 17 Learning Activities per week on ABCmouse — about 10 minutes per day — showed improvements in reading skills compared to those who didn’t use the program. With that extra learning lift, the children continued to display improvements in reading ability by winter of the next school year.
2. Keep reading — as a family.
Whether you read aloud to your children or they read on their own, reading every day — especially about topics your children love — can spark a love of learning.
Joel Kupperstein, Senior Vice President of Curriculum at Age of Learning, offers tips for encouraging children to read: "Having kids read every day for as little as 15–30 minutes, depending on their age, can make a big impact. And let them read whatever interests them, whether that be storybooks, graphic novels, news articles or magazines. The goal is to make reading something they want to do and not something they have to do.”
He also recommends choosing a time each day when adults read aloud to children — and older children can take turns reading aloud, too. "This is a great opportunity for kids to start experiencing longer, more sophisticated stories that they may not be able to read independently," adds Kupperstein. "Books by great authors like Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, Kate DiCamillo and others are fantastic when read silently, but even better when read aloud!"
3. Make learning your travel companion.
In the car or in the sky, summer vacation and traveling go hand in hand. Road trips are perfect for young children to practice reading road signs or spelling things they see outside a car window. On a flight, kids can watch the progress of the plane flying over the map if their seat back has a TV screen. From state capitols to geography, talk about where you’re headed on vacation and what makes it special.
They can also find thousands of kid-friendly titles to practice reading comprehension on the go in digital libraries like ReadingIQ. If your children play video games on long road trips, Adventure Academy is a new educational multiplayer online game that strengthens skills in math, science, language arts and social studies. Wherever you go this summer, you can take learning with you!
4. Go outside and see what summer can teach your children.
Summer is the best time to discover the great outdoors with your young learner. Go on a nature walk and discover what plants and animals live in your neighborhood. Invite kids to draw pictures or write about what they find on a hike. Before heading to the beach, learn about sea animals at an aquarium or public library. Sweaty or sunburned? Talk about how bodies react to the summer heat after playing outside all day.
Keep your children engaged with questions about the world around them. If they ask a question you don’t know how to answer, that’s an opportunity to find the answer together. Not only do these discussions build literacy skills, but encouraging your children to seek the answers helps fuel their love of learning.
5. Find math in everyday activities.
To reinforce and build on your children’s math skills, remember that math is all around us. To avoid the summer slide, engage your children in using math for problem solving. Younger children can notice numbers on houses or learn to count quantities. Older children can add up prices and weigh fruit at the grocery store.
No matter your child’s age or grade level, you can encourage him or her to keep learning outside of school to prevent summer learning loss — and have fun while doing so!