There is a garden in every childhood, an enchanted place where colors are brighter, the air softer, and the morning more fragrant than ever again. — Elizabeth Lawrence
The long and golden days of summer are forever etched into our adult memories as a glorious period of freedom and joy. I clearly recall roaming in packs throughout our neighborhood, exploring both fields and forests, and venturing out on my bike to playgrounds with friends. What I don’t remember is my parents worrying and fretting over where I was, or whether I was learning something that would help me grow and develop academically. But they did. And many of you are as well. Summer learning loss is real, and it affects our children’s intellectual future.
The National Summer Learning Association states, “Students who fall behind over the summer are less likely to graduate from high school or go on to college.” Studies reveal that the greatest areas of summer learning loss for all students, regardless of socio-economic status, are in factual and procedural knowledge.
Still, we want so much for our children to experience that special feeling of freedom and joy that we did as kids, and to take the burden of stress from their little shoulders — at least for a bit. So, how do we provide critical summer learning experiences while allowing them their time to play and roam in that “enchanted garden of youth”?
Five Ways to Avoid Summer Learning Loss
Keep your child curious about learning. It’s up to you — the parent and teacher — to get the creative ball rolling this summer. Both curiosity and creativity are inherent in all children, but they may need a “boost” of sorts to get the juices flowing. A child learns by example, so the enthusiasm and creativity you bring to each day is valuable and enriching. You can add a new twist to kickball game rules, for instance. Or think hard about how to incorporate basic math and engineering into the simple childhood ritual of building a fort. Ask lots of questions, and listen hard to what your child has to say. Use every teachable moment that comes your way; there may be many more than you would think.
Explore areas that might spark interest and identify new strengths. Ask yourself, “What haven’t we done before?” Even if the topic is outside your comfort zone, how do you know that your child is not going to be inspired by it? We tend to return to the same routines of our own youth, or pick trips and activities that we “know the drill” to because it’s easier for US, but childhood learning is all about new experiences. You can ask your child and spouse or friends for input, but most of all, be willing to take the plunge, just for the sake of learning something for the first time.
Looking for summer field trip ideas? Check out our blog post.
Investigate what learning style is most natural for your child. New experiences and opportunities are a great way to watch your child objectively and take note of how they process new information. Does your child process information best through visual, auditory, or hands-on activities? What are your child’s natural gifts and what do they love to do? This will help you tailor your teaching in a way that best fits your child, and understanding your own approach to learning will illuminate the differences and similarities between you and your child. Interested to know more about learning styles? Visit our website for more information.
Have fun while learning through enriching family activities. This point may seem overly simple, but you should choose summer activities with fun in mind rather than education. Too many parents get caught up in workbooks and math drills and forget the “WOW” part of learning. Then, take the time to think through a trip or activity to explore just how to apply it to real life and make it a learning opportunity. You will be surprised at how educational a “trip just for fun” can be!
Sign up for an online learning program. There are plenty of educational fun and games online, but few are enriching. Enter Elephango.com, where your child is equipped to think critically, stay motivated, and connect learning to real life. What makes Elephango.com unique is the ability to match resources to your child’s learning style. There are loads of extras, such as earning trophies and badges as your child completes lessons. They’ll never be bored with Elephango.com! Find out what Elephango.com is all about here.
Approach summer slide with the mindset of balancing fun and education. It’s a great time to encourage your child’s curious side, identify new strengths, and explore new areas. For those hot days, Elephango.com serves as a digital experience that will keep them coming back for more. A summer filled with guided enrichment will build family bonds, show you how your child learns in new situations, and ultimately gift you with the ability to become an even better teacher in the years to come!