Just Precious

Chutes and Ladders

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized by Julie Meyers Pron on July 27, 2009

I remember pulling out of my high school parking lot blasting the GoGo’s Vacation. Finals were over and summer had begun. A time for play. Sprinklers, swimming pools, popsicles and country fairs. Road trips, camp, beaches and baseball games. School? Toss those notebooks in the trash. Forget everything we learned. Right?

Well, not really. Sure, its nice as a tween or teen to believe there’s no schooling in summer, but in reality, schooling exists throughout one’s life. While giving tours of my college campus to prospective families, one of my favorite comments was that only 1/2 of our education is academic. The other half occurs as we grow.

As parents, we know that education in growing begins at birth. We’ve read the books and been prepped on eye-contact, classical music, and reading board books. We recognize that every interaction is educational. What we may not recognize is that this education continues beyond babyhood.

Education, being only 1/2 academic, occurs at all ages. Education occurs when one pays for a candy bar and receives change; when a child recognizes a “STOP” sign or realizes directions to his playdate before he gets there. It occurs when a tween pages through a bopper magazine or a high schooler makes a decision. Education is around 100% of the time.

But academic schooling doesn’t have to be around, especially in the summer. Its often by choice. In 6th grade at summer camp, I was terribly jealous of my friends who had summer reading requirements. They unpacked their bags and filled their shelves with intelligent classics and thought-provoking fiction. I humbly turned to my shelf and perused the selection of teen novels. Their schools had recognized something mine hadn’t: that encouraging the children to read during the summer encouraged their academics even at a time that academia isn’t surrounding them. Did those friends look at my shelf and snicker? Or were they filled with jealousy that I could select my own reading?

Research has shown that kids who do not further their academic learning throughout vacation are said to lose 1 month of academic learning from the school year.  Meaning that teachers are then pressed to re-educate about 1-month worth of lessons so that the children can catch-up to where they left off. Does every child lose this much? Not likely. In fact, simply by encouraging kids to learn something new, parents are helping to prevent this so-called “summer slide” and may even promote a step or two up the “learning ladder.”

As a teacher, I provided my students with a packet of busy work each summer. But always encouraged their parents to be more creative in their summer-schooling. Some ideas:

  • hit the library and participate in a summer reading club. Kids love the rewards and the schedule. Let them select the book they want to read and encourage a regular reading routine. Discuss the books he reads to show your interest in his reading.
  • go on a nature walk and discuss findings. Help your child to learn more about the items he finds on the walk.
  • don’t solve all the problems your child has. Problem solving is a key area of education. Allow him to think through a problem and come up with the best solution.
  • ask for help at the store. Do your grocery shopping with a partner: have him estimate how many items you’re purchasing or how much the groceries will cost.  At the mall, give her the money to pay for a t-shirt purchase, make sure she counts the change.
  • Roadtripping? Bring along an extra map and allow your child to find areas of interest as well as map-out your drive.  Turn off the DVD and play games in the car. Games like “I’m going on a picnic and bringing…” help children with categorization, alphabetical order and memory. Challenge each other to math problems, rhyming and aliteration games. Write a song together.

Education isn’t just about sitting at a desk, pencil in hand, and performing busy-work tasks. Take advantage of  your everyday life this summer and start learning together.

This post is in response to the Y! Motherboard’s topic of the month: The Summer Slide. For great suggestions on fun summer activities visit Shine and get the low down on a variety of topics surrounding all-things-summer: http://shine.yahoo.com/event/summerkids.

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