Does your child pick up on new concepts and ideas like a little sponge? It always amazes me how quickly and eager they are to learn. I noticed from the first week Shep started going to preschool that he not only enjoyed learning, but he thrived in a traditional learning environment. He talked about the lessons they had each day and loved applying various concepts to his everyday life.
Mommy, see the letter A? A is for apple!
Mommy, that stop sign is an octagon! (Mind. Blown.)
You’re a brontosaurus! I’m a triceratops!
And of course … “ABCDEFG-HIJK-elmn-OP!”
So with all of that time and energy invested in school-year learning, I was a little nervous, even at his young age, to think he could lose some of that hard-won knowledge. In fact, recent research shows that kids can lose up to two months of learning over the summer.
I spoke to a learning loss expert, Nathan Hemmelgarn, from Carson-Dellosa, an educational publishing company, about some of those concerns and wanted to share what I learned with other parents out there. Whether your child is 3 or 16, there is so much we can do over the summer months to ensure our kids retain what they learned and are set up for success in the next school year. Plus — the good news is that it doesn’t take a lot of time (win!). Here are four easy ways to help your kids prevent learning loss this summer.
- Keep learning casual. You don’t need to set up a formal classroom in your kitchen. Instead, integrate the skills and topics your kids learn during school and work that into their everyday activities. It doesn’t have to be regimented – it’s playing with blocks, measuring while you are cooking, or spelling their names with sidewalk chalk. There are great worksheets and summer learning resources available if your child prefers traditional lessons.
- Short lessons count. One of the biggest mistakes parents make is doing nothing because they think they don’t have the time. Fifteen minutes per day of learning can go a long way in preventing learning loss, says Nathan.
- Integrate learning into travel. Are you going on a family trip this summer before school starts? The journey itself can be an excellent opportunity to incorporate math and reading skills. For example, ask your kids to help track distance and map out a route if traveling via car or plane. If you are stuck in a car for a long trip, listen to an audiobook and discuss the plot and characters together.
- Remember emotional intelligence. Learning is about much more than grades and curriculum. When children are healthy, feel safe and able to express their feelings, they are set up for success socially and in the classroom. Encourage your children to talk about their feelings, both good and bad. Encourage free play and age-appropriate social skills.
Finally, don’t hesitate to recruit other caregivers in your kids’ lives to help create an environment of learning. Grandparents, babysitters, and neighbors can all help incorporate learning opportunities into your everyday lives.