Plug That Summer Learning-Leak!

May 26, 2017

Just like a drippy faucet, parents must find a way to plug the crack that forms when children leave school for a long break. The fact that academic and social-emotional learning “leaks out” over the summer is held up by much research.

It is essential to make sure children read. Every year I give a special gift to students in grades 3 through 6 who read at least two books over the summer. I am always surprised when a few students return to school telling me they did not have time to read at all over the ten-week break. That means those students have to spend a great deal of time at the beginning of the academic year playing catch-up instead of being able to move forward with others in the class.

As always, I will be providing a suggested reading list for summer. There are also summer reading programs at local libraries. In fact, the children’s librarian from the Studio City Library came to our school this week to introduce herself and explain the program to our students.

I am sometimes asked why ADAT does not assign specific books for reading during the summer. The answer is that we at ADAT know from experience that students will be more willing to read and will read more when they are allowed to choose their books. Once again, research backs this approach up. Erin T. Kelly, M.D. writes, “Is that going to be the best literature in the world? No. But if it’s something that the children will actually read, then it’s going to lead to positive outcomes.”

Now what about math? There is no equivalent of a summer reading list or summer library programs for math. It is easy to understand why less enticing packets for summer math practice often go undone. I challenge you to recognize the math in every day life and include your children. For example, decide with them how much time you should put in the parking meter and figure out when is it time to get back to the car. Children can help you look for an address. Even numbers are on one side of the street, odd on the other. The grocery store is my favorite math classroom. Think about letting your child count out 5 bananas, doing price comparisons, noting grams of sugar per serving, checking change from the cashier (if you pay in cash). There are also many computer games and apps that review and teach math.

Much social-emotional growth has taken place during the school year, and it’s important to continue that throughout the summer months. Promote continued growth with camp, playdates, and family trips. Provide challenges like trying new experiences or taking on a new hobby. Is your child interested in learning a new instrument or advancing with the one they are playing? How about making time to tinker in the garage? Summer can be an ideal time to take on something fresh.

Instead of letting learning fade, make the sunshine of June, July, and August be months that gleam with momentum. In a blink your children will be back here at school and we will be ready for them to blast off to the next quest.