With the majority of schools across the country closed, many parents are feeling the stress of taking more active roles in their children’s education. As time away from the classroom extends into summer, parents also face the challenge of helping their children maintain what they’ve learned through a summer of uncertainty.
This year’s shift to at-home learning has provided plenty of resources parents can use to keep their children’s minds engaged and actively learning. The shift has also prompted families to create new routines and healthy learning habits. Continuing these best practices over the summer may prove beneficial in setting students up for success when they return to the classroom.
• Set a clear daily schedule with realistic goals and be sure to allow flexibility. A child’s attention span grows longer with age — typically 2 to 3 minutes per year of age — so the amount of time an elementary school student will focus on a task may be significantly shorter than a high school student.
• Build in time for kids to play. According to the journal Pediatrics, playing promotes healthy brain development and boosts academic skills. Playtime also helps children manage stress, making it an important and fun way for parents to support kids coping with stress or anxiety.
• Create a conducive learning environment at home. If possible, set up a designated desk and distraction-free work space children can use for everything from completing school assignments to playing educational games.
While routines are important, they may not be the only key to summer learning success. Research from Harvard indicates parents who engage with their children in simple activities over the summer — like reading together or talking about baseball statistics — can have a greater impact on their children’s academic performance than popular summer activities, such as summer camps, travel or summer school.
Since education can happen anywhere as part of everyday life, there are many activities families can do together to create a sense of summertime fun while fostering academic growth.
• Spend some time cooking or baking together. Use these experiences as opportunities to practice reading recipes or practice math by measuring and adding ingredients.
• Work with other parents or family members to find summer pen pals. Have kids write letters back and forth to practice reading and writing skills.
• Extend story time with read-and-do activities that lay the groundwork for developing engaged readers. For example, the Pizza Hut BOOK IT! program offers free online activities at bookitprogram.com that children and parents can do together, such as drawing, letter recognition or sight-word bingo.
• Explore science and nature by taking a walk. Try to identify different types of clouds, trees, plants, rocks and animals. Take pictures of any you find interesting and then look up additional information when you return home to practice research skills.
• Watch the news or read about current events together. This can provide practical lessons on social studies and help kids raise questions about the world around them.