Enjoy the Summer while Continuing the Learning Journey
By Jen Lemery, EAL Team Leader
Summer is a time for relaxation and fun. As international families, we often use the time to travel, explore new places, or to reconnect with our home country and family.
And while we want our children to have fun over the summer, we also want their learning journeys to continue and to help them use and build on the skills that they have learned over the course of the school year.
It all comes down to finding the right balance. Children need time to relax and play and this is an endless opportunity for learning. There are plenty of authentic ways to promote learning outside of the typical 'school' environment. It is easy to have your child keep a summer travel journal, make a movie about fun vacations or activities, visit museums, take photos, learn some words in a new language, especially if you are traveling to a new country. Encourage your child to read books that he/she is interested in. Find time to play his/her favorite sport or to enjoy nature. All of these activities, and more, can provide easy but great learning experiences for your child.
How Can You Help? Keeping learning fun during the summer months.
As parents, there are a number of things you can do to help your child maintain learning and language skills over the summer.
Read, read, read! 20 minutes a day is all it takes! Keeping your child reading over the summer is one of the best ways to continue learning. Research shows that summer reading can make a significant difference in a student's overall academic achievement, particularly when they begin a new school year in the fall. Please keep in mind the 'Golden Rules' of reading:
- Your child should be reading books and texts that are engaging and interesting.
- Your child should be reading books at their right level. If a book is too hard or too easy, then reading becomes not as enjoyable as it could be.
Write away! Keep writing materials handy, such as pencils, paper, and crayons, so that your child can practice writing whenever inspiration strikes. Encourage your child to write letters or postcards to friends and relatives over the summer, to keep a journal, make a summer scrapbook, or to write stories and poems. Ask your child to help you when making shopping lists or copying a recipe.
Don't forget about math We use math every day and there are many authentic tasks - like measuring out ingredients for a cookie recipe - that help reinforce those skills. Think about scheduling some short time each week for your child to practice essential math skills. There are some good resources available that will give you ideas of the types of activities that promote mathematical thinking. For those with teens, check out Help Your Teen Avoid the Summer Math Slide. For those with younger students, look at 15 Fun Ways to Stop the Summer Slide.
Get Techy Technology offers many opportunities to encourage summer learning and help maintain problem-solving and critical thinking skills. There are many great programs available for educational use.
Listening and Watching We sometimes forget about the power of listening and absorbing language. Watching appropriate TV shows and movies in the target language is a great way to have more exposure to the language. There are a number of Podcasts available that are kid friendly as well.
Supporting Language Progress
Along with supporting your child's overall learning, summer is also a great opportunity to help your child keep working on their language skills. Maintaining Mother Tongue language is especially important. Research has shown that a child's proficiency in their own Mother Tongue language directly impacts their success in other languages.
The summer is a wonderful time to reconnect with your family's home language(s). If you are traveling back to your home country, visit your local library or book stores. Pick up some new books to read and enjoy together. Going back to your home country is also a great time to play. Look for play dates or summer camps that allow your child to play in the language. Language researchers say that practicing language in social settings, or through play, is one of the best ways to learn a language.
If you are not returning back to your home country, you can still create fun experiences where your child can use your Mother Tongue. Reading books, watching TV or movies, singing songs are all good ways to build and maintain language progress.
Most importantly, we encourage you to enjoy the extra time you have with your child. Keep the learning fun, interesting and engaging. Incorporating some of these suggestions into your summer routine will not only create a fun summer of growth for your child but also help when they return to school in August.