Career & Education

How to keep your child actively learning in summer


Sunday, June 10, 2018

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The summer break is almost here, where teachers will bid farewell to their charges and nervous parents take over the challenge of keeping them physically and cognitively engaged.

Making sure your child is keeping his or her brain active, and thereby avoiding boredom, is paramount for preventing summer learning loss, which is known to rob students of up to one month of learning skills.

According to the literature, boredom signals a person's need for physical or mental activity to keep him or her occupied and to vent energy. The same way that we need food to satisfy hunger, people, need physical and/or mental activity.

Many parents will seek summer camps which engage their kids either physically, mentally, or both. Summer camps provide social-emotional benefits such as building friendships and promoting extra- curricular activities, but they can be expensive and will still involve the tedious chore of commuting if they are day camps.

If funds and or time is limited, then there are many other ways that one can promote and enrich learning at home. In fact, regardless of income or socio-economic background, recent research suggests that home-based activities involving the whole family are more effective in increasing summer learning.

Tips for Active Summer Learning

If you choose to have your child stay home this summer, here a few ideas that parents can use to make learning at home both fun and enriching. There are many other ways, but I will just make a few suggestions:

• Kids should read every day

Join a local library or exchange books with friends. Depending on your child's age, have them read the newspaper and discuss current affairs with them. Be sure to inquire about what they have read. Ask them to summarise, which will build language and comprehension skills. You could also track the number of books your child reads and reward him or her when certain milestones are achieved (for example, after reading five books).

• Word of the day

There are websites that offer a word of the day, which is a fun way to expand your child's vocabulary. Let kids write sentences using these new words and also practice using them in conversation. This is fun for both adults and children.

• Estimate bills

Bring kids with you when you shop and have them estimate your bill. This is a great way to build mathematical skills.

• Grow a garden

Kids can grow a small vegetable garden either indoors in pots or outdoors. Do some research and find out about fast-growing vegetables. Select the ones most suitable for your living space.

• Collect small animals

This may sound a bit creepy to some parents, but if your child is the adventurous type this may be pleasurable. Kids can go outside and collect butterflies, caterpillars, lizards, moths, beetles etc. They could try to identify them using online resources. Be sure to let them know that they should not kill these creatures and that they should release them back into nature.

• Play games

There are many games around that stimulate the mind such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Pictionary, sudoku, chess. These will teach spelling, vocabulary, mathematics as well as promote critical thinking skills. Get involved. Plan a weekly family game night.

• Cook with your kids

Use recipes that will foster reading, comprehension and mathematical skills. This is a great way to teach kids about measurements and how to use fractions. You can even throw in a little science. For example, if you are up to the challenge of making bread, then you could explain the biology of yeast and the chemistry of fermentation.

• Volunteer

Older teens will benefit from volunteering. It is an opportunity to learn new skills, meet new people, improve self-esteem and confidence, develop empathy for others, and to gain personal satisfaction from making a difference. It is usually best to start off with a smaller time commitment and then build on this as time goes on.

Dr Karla Hylton is the author of Yes! You Can Help Your Child Achieve Academic Success and Complete Chemistry for Caribbean High Schools. She operates Bio & Chem Tutoring, which specialises in secondary level biology and chemistry. Reach her at (876) 564-1347, or .

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