Dr. Gladys I. Cruz
Published in the Register-Star/Daily Mail on July 8, 2020
As we head into summer following what is likely the most unique school year many of us can remember, it is an opportune time to think about how to keep students engaged and learning. The phenomenon known as the “summer slide” is very real – many students lose critical skills during the summer break. This year, with the final three months of the school year taking place remotely, children stand to lose anywhere from 3 months to a year of learning.
The hot, hazy days of summer are an ideal time to support our investment in education by helping young people maintain their skills while discovering their natural abilities, satisfying their curiosities, and expanding their capacities to learn. Without the constraints of a busy school day, children can discover worlds previously unknown and foster new, lasting relationships with their peers and community. These activities can be fun and rewarding, and reinforce the idea that learning is indeed a lifelong endeavor.
While the situation we find ourselves in due to the COVID-19 pandemic does limit some available activities families may normally participate in over the summer, this doesn’t mean there are no opportunities for children to learn during the summer months.
Below are five suggested activities for you and your family:
- Read every day. This can happen anywhere, despite restrictions on public gatherings or events. Many libraries are open, perhaps not to roam the aisles and find a cozy chair, but to search online and reserve books for pickup. Encourage your child to read for at least 30 minutes every day, either individually or as a family. Make it fun – allow them to choose the books they read, and they are more likely to enjoy a daily reading time. Adults can help reinforce the importance of reading by choosing a book of their own. Children will read more if they see adults doing the same. With the scores of online reading and ebooks available, there is no shortage of engaging reading material to choose from!
- Make math and writing more accessible by using it in everyday situations. Consider the many ways we use math and writing in our daily lives and ask your kids to do the same. Shopping is a perfect opportunity to teach your child how to calculate a budget. You can also have them write a letter to a loved one, a family member they are unable to visit due to the pandemic, something I’m sure the recipient would enjoy given the lack of social interaction for many these past few months.
- Take advantage of the weather. Connect science to everyday life. From observing cloud formations and checking weather apps to exploring water evaporation in a pool, ask “why” questions about things in nature we see daily and encourage your children to research and find the answers.
- Go on virtual visits to museums, historical landmarks, zoos and aquariums. Consider going on these virtual visits as a family – there is so much to learn!
- Put down the electronics. Encourage your kids to play board or card games, do puzzles or arts and crafts. These are inexpensive ways to connect as a family and promote strategy, problem-solving, reasoning and creativity.
The opportunities for children to learn over the summer are endless, even in our current age of social or physical distancing. As the thermometer soars, so do the stakes in education. Our children must be ready to meet the rigorous academic standards that await in September. All of us – families, schools and communities – have a responsibility to ensure that a vacation from school is not a vacation from learning.
See the links below for a variety of fun, educational activities you can explore from home