It is summertime! The kids are home for the next eight weeks. They have started to stare at you, looking for what to do next. As educators, we are frequently asked what we think students should do each summer. Should I pay for camp? Should I put my child in summer school? Are their brains going to waste away while they are not focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic? There are a few suggestions for making their (and your) summer less stressful and filled with learning that teachers use on their own kids!
These techniques work all the way up to the big kids. Schools, in recent years, have cut back tremendously on field trips. The price of gas and entrance fees for many educational trips has almost eliminated field trips from a student’s learning during the year. Each week this summer, visit one museum, zoo or historic site with your child. Look up the website to the area first.
Often these places come with a map, coloring page or worksheet that your child can do while there. Get a map of Arizona and identify places on it that are close to home that they can visit. Identify wildlife and the areas they are from. Many websites have wonderful lessons on history and facts that you can read up on before you go. Read one hour every day. Set a time during the day that is quiet in your house and won’t likely be changed by any other event as the reading time. Have your student read parts to you that they find interesting or exciting. Ask them to spend five minutes at the end of the hour to tell you all about their story. These techniques help students with reading comprehension. A fun game is to have them ask you questions about what they just told you regarding the story. It is harder for them to think of questions than to answer questions you would ask.
Questioning techniques involve: facts about the story, vocabulary in the story, experience (has this ever happened to you?), and inferences (why do you think Sam chased Joe?). Try to get your child to ask you all types of questions. Writing is a truly dreaded skill by most students, and is one-third of their AIMS test every year. Students write starting in Kindergarten well in to college. Every night just before going to bed, have your child write a letter or note to you about their day (younger children can draw pictures and tell you about them). It is truly meaningful to your child if you write them back. This also helps students in Kindergarten through tenth grade with their reading as well. As they progress, focus on having them use very descriptive words and great sentence structure. You can explain in your response ways they could have phrased something to sound more exciting and why. This is a great activity that allows parents and kids to communicate nonverbally.
Volunteer at a food bank, library, school, summer program, or church. Learning to volunteer and work with others transfers to the students in the classroom. A student’s self-confidence increases when they learn to work productively with others in a positive way. Teachers require students to learn to work together productively on many projects and students who have volunteered and know when and how to make a difference do much better. Making a difference in the lives of others also increases students’ sense of empathy and self worth. If all else fails, have them volunteer to babysit a neighbor’s children or pets or even to mow someone’s lawn. Do chores every day. Cook dinner one night a week. Cooking classes are rarely offered at school and cooking is a skill every child needs to learn. Hot dogs are an easy meal that anyone can make. Homemade pizza is another great option. Help the student understand the importance of including fruits and vegetables in every meal. Also, have kids do their own laundry this summer. This is another skill that anyone of any age can learn and use often! They will thank you once they get to college. A summer full of television and video games with nothing else is a wasted brain. Enjoy your student this summer and give them knowledge and experiences they won’t get anywhere else. QCBN