Growing Reader

Stop the Slide! Summer Learning Loss Prevention Tips for 6- to 8-Year-Olds

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: Thomas Barwick, Photonica/ Getty Images

Summer learning loss isn’t a myth. It happens and quite frankly, it’s a huge bummer for kids and teachers. Who wants to review for the first four weeks of school? It’s such a waste of valuable learning time.

Especially since it’s preventable.

Simply ask your children to practice reading, writing, and math throughout their vacation time. Not for hours and hours, but just for a few minutes every day. Just that little keeps their brains from becoming sieves over the summer.

1. Schedule
First develop a routine for summer learning. Consider scheduling learning time in the morning, so learning gets done before the day’s activities.

2. Space
Where will your child do her learning activities? Set up a station or nook with a calendar or checklist of what activities need to be done each day.

3. Supplies
Gather the books, games, paper, and pencils. Do you need a math workbook? How about reading games? As you continue to read this article, make a list of what you’ll need for summer.

Also, keep lots of books around the house for easy access. Use Brightly to get new book ideas. Visit the library to check out books. (This might be a good time to get your child her own library card or participate in your library’s summer reading program!)

4. Read Every Day
Think of your child’s reading level. See if you she can maintain that level of comprehension if not improve it over the summer. Decide how much your child needs to read every day on his own. This depends somewhat on your child’s age but I suggest at least 10 – 20 minutes per day.

5. Practice Sight Words
Sight words are those words like “and” and “the” that kids need to know at a glance so their reading becomes fluent. Find free word lists online.

Think beyond flashcards when learning sight words. Make scavenger hunts around your house or in books. Play games. Write sight words with unusual materials like play dough, Wikki Stix, or shaving cream. For more learning ideas, check out these 20 Sight Word Games, Activities, and Reading Ideas.

6. Practice Math Facts
How well do your kids know addition and subtraction facts? Without practice, kids will lose the facts they’ve learned. Repetitive practice of math facts improves recall time.

Buy a workbook for your child’s grade level and require a page or two each learning session. This way you don’t have to invent the curriculum, it’s already prepared.

Or use high-quality math apps to make math fact practice fun. I recommend SqueeblesSplash MathPet Bingo, and Math Bingo.

7. Write
Developing writers need to write something that makes sense. That’s why it’s important for kids to have real purposes for writing.

Consider the many ways we use writing in our daily lives (making lists, writing emails, notes, journal entries) and the audience for whom we write (ourselves, friends, work). Ask your kids to do the same — to write letters to someone, keep a daily journal, make lists of what to do or buy, or write a story to read at bedtime. These authentic activities teach children so much more about writing than any worksheet could. For more authentic writing ideas, visit my Writing Activities Pinterest board.

Not only that, younger kids must also develop (and practice) the physical act of writing. Help build their fine motor skills with handwriting practice sheets and strength-building activities such as playing with silly putty, weaving lacing cards, or sorting small objects. For more ideas, visit Lessons Learnt Journal’s Fine Motor Skills Pinterest board.

Remember that kids learn best through play. When in doubt, make your learning playful. Play makes everything better, especially during summer vacation!

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