By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach
Are you concerned about learning loss or the summer slide? Do you want to make sure that your kids continue learning and stay engaged in the summer? These 3 activities boost summer learning for preteens and can be done daily. Build a schedule where kids can practice reading, writing and creating, and you will see their learning blossom through the summer.
What is “Summer Slide” or Learning Loss?
Children can return to school in fall at a lower academic level then they left in the spring of the previous school year. This is referred to as learning loss or the “summer slide”. According to Measures of Academic Progress, “by the end of the summer of 7th grade, students lost on average 36% of their school year gains in reading.”
Parents should be concerned about this and make sure to do what they can to help children stay engaged in learning throughout the summer.
At the same time, our children are feeling tired or burnt out from school and they need a break. Parents also may feel ready to let their kids have a little fun and not be stressed with academics. Therefore, summer school may not be the best option.
Parents need to help children find that balance between the “work” of learning, and the “fun” of learning. You can do this by giving your kids choice and connecting it to their own interests and passions.
Why 3 Activities for Summer Learning?
You may be wondering, why Reading, Writing and Creativity? Why not more? Very simply, here are the reasons why these 3 specific activities will improve learning.
- Easy/Not Overwhelming – Let’s face it, kids work hard at school all year, and they need a break. Summer is an opportunity for them to relax and not feel pressured to get homework done, or score a passing grade. Focusing on three topics is much easier than trying to focus on every subject area.
- Lots of Variety – Keeping it open and simple sets it up for having a lot of variety. If the child has lots of options in these three areas, they will be able to select many different things to do and won’t get bored with the same things week after week.
- Core Pieces to Education – Reading and Writing are the cornerstone to education. If you are able to do these well, it leads to success in many other areas. Being able to create gives an opportunity for children to put their knowledge to work and to actually apply what they know. Creation involves math, science, social studies, creativity, problem solving skills, critical thinking and much more in many different ways.
- Choice & Ownership – Preteens like to be in charge of their own life. Giving them independence lets them show you what they are capable of, and when anyone gets a say in what they do, it gives them ownership. It leads to more motivation to complete something and for them to follow their passions.
Activities for Reading, Writing and Creating
Often we think that sitting down with a chapter book is the reading that our preteens should be doing. Open the world of possibilities. Reading is much more than reading words on a page. It is taking in new texts, using vocabulary, analyzing information, comparing and contrasting to prior knowledge, and so much more. Engaging in activities that do these things are similar to practice their reading.
Here are a few ways to practice reading:
- Create a Book Club for friends
- Comic Books
- Reading Music
- Bullet Journalling
- Short Story Creation
- Writing Plays
- Letters to Loved Ones
- Gratitude Letters
- Create a Comic Strip/Book
Let your child explore. Having a time for creativity, gives them a time to apply all of the skills that they have learned. It can be a simple project they complete in an hour, or maybe they choose to do something more complex that will take them days to complete. As a parent, you can support them by providing/finding materials, facilitation of ideas, or even just a cheerleader of their efforts. Make sure to check out this article on how to encourage your child the right way.
Here are ideas to spark creativity:
- Building a Birdhouse
- Build an obstacle course
- Set up a fair for neighborhood kids to attend
- Start a business – sell homemade bracelets or lemonade
- Build their own board game
- Learn to code/Design an app
For other great ideas check out this article “Grow Your Creative Child With These Free Ideas”.