Summertime, and the Living is Easy

Summertime, are your children learning?

Most young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer break. According to the National Summer Learning Association (www.summerlearning.org), research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.

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Harris Cooper, professor at Duke University states, “We found that kids do forget over the summer. Across the board, all kids lose some math skills. We also found that summer learning programs have a significant positive effect.” His research showed that small, individualized programs with parental involvement were the most effective. Summer is a great time to learn, especially for the younger children, because it is a less stressful time where programs can be individualized.

What can parents do to improve their children’s reading abilities?

James Kim, assistant professor at Harvard University has studied this question. “We’ve learned that if you are trying to improve children’s reading abilities, you have to provide books that match the child’s reading level and interest and you have to know how to monitor comprehension”. Just providing books without guidance, especially for young readers, is not enough. “Reading is most effective when parents… can provide reading guidance and make sure that kids understand what they are reading. Reading can be both a solitary activity and a social activity that fosters learning and recreation.”

You need to ask questions about the story and encourage the child to ask questions. Repetition is very valuable to the child. Have them reread the story, especially the challenging passages. Discuss the story and ideas presented in the book. Ask your child to summarize and sequence the story. These are a few of the relatively simple techniques that reading specialists use to increase fluency and comprehension.

Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do. Dance and sports programs enhance body awareness and fitness. Why not include a summer learning program for your child this year and add brain fitness as well?

Brian Nashman, Director Scholars Education Centre, Peterborough

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