10 Things Parents Can Do This Summer to Help Their Child Start the School Year Strong

June 26, 2019 • Filed under Press Releases

Laura Johnson, National Summer Learning Association
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10 Things Parents Can Do This Summer to Help Their Child Start the School Year Strong
National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) and Learning Heroes Offer a Primer for Summer Fun and Learning

(Baltimore, MD, June 20, 2019) – Summertime is officially here – meaning longer days and more time to enjoy baseball, barbecues, and leisure time. And while summer is indeed a time to kick back and relax, it’s also a time for students to explore their interests and learn in new and different ways sometimes limited during the school year.

Investing in Successful Summer Programs, a Wallace Foundation report of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), establishes that summer programs provide children with the mental, physical and emotional skills they need to succeed in life.

“An enriching summer long program experience can change the trajectory of a young person’s life. It is also one of the soundest investments our society can make for the future wellbeing of our children and for us as a country. Summer provides the chance for some kids to catch up and keep up and for all kids to grow, thrive and propel forward in the school year ahead,” said Aaron Philip Dworkin, CEO of the National Summer Learning Association.

Summers are a particularly good opportunity for parents to use the Readiness Check, a new (free) digital summer learning tool developed by Learning Heroes, that gives parents a gut check on how their child is progressing, and provides them with fun free videos, games, and more to support math and reading.

“Nine in ten K-8 parents, regardless of race, income, geography, and education levels, believe their child is at or above grade level in math and reading. However, national data reveal that just over a third of students demonstrate the ability to perform at this level,” said Bibb Hubbard, Founder and President of Learning Heroes. “Summer is an important time to keep learning; and with so many incredible free resources available, it is easy to make the learning time fun, interactive, and connected to a young person’s passions and interests. Summertime learning helps ensure students arrive at school the next year better prepared with the skills they need to succeed and thrive.”

Summer learning can be grouped into three broad categories: enrollment-based programs such as camps, drop-in programs like the public library, and at-home learning that can take place anytime and anywhere. NSLA worked with Learning Heroes to create a Top 10 list of things parents can do to make learning fun during the summer, and to ensure their kids start the new school year strong.

  • Make a simple plan. Look at your child’s grades, pay attention to how easy or hard it is for them to do grade-level activities, and look out for the state test results you’ve received from school. Go to www.bealearninghero.org to help set your child up for success in the new school year.
  • Strengthen life skills. Support real world skills that help your child in and out of school. Show your child how to problem-solve, learn from mistakes, and how to communicate well with others, especially in tough situations.
  • Let them show what they know! As your child reads, plays an educational app, or during everyday moments at home, ask them to teach what they’ve learned and what they enjoyed or didn’t. This helps them review important skills and builds confidence!
  • Discover the fun (and free) in your community. Check out library programs, zoos, parks, or museums to explore new interests. Talk about what you want to learn and what you enjoyed during your visit.
  • Read every day. Whether doing it at home, at a library, or even while visiting a beach or park, reading can be a joyful escape. Many schools use Lexile levels to measure a child’s reading ability. Parents can help children pick books that interest them and are suited to their Lexile reading level. Visit the MetaMetrics, Find a Book site at: https://fab.lexile.com/. The Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge is another free, online reading program where students can unlock digital rewards as they complete weekly reading challenges. Visit scholastic.com/summer/home/
  • Have fun with numbers and science: Asking your child to help tally a grocery bill, follow a cupcake recipe, or calculate how much time it will take to get to the beach are creative ways to practice math skills. Kids are naturally inquisitive – from collecting rocks or rose petals; making ice cubes and then watching them melt or building cardboard robots, science fun is everywhere.
  • Make art…and music: Whether it’s painting a picture, composing a song or constructing musical instruments out of everyday items, let the summer months be the time when your child discovers the joy of creative expression.
  • Get moving and eat healthy! Many children experience unhealthy levels of weight gain during the summer months because they get less exercise when schools are closed. So encourage kids to take a hike, learn to swim, play outdoors, bike ride, run or walk. Encourage healthy eating habits—start a tomato container garden or fresh herbs grown on your kitchen window sill.
  • Manage screen time: There are many self-paced and free online learning programs that support skill development in many subjects from pre-k through twelfth grade. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the quality of content is more important than the platform or time spent with media. Prioritize how your child spends his time rather than just setting a timer.
  • Finally…keep good habits! Keep a bedtime routine. It’s ok for your child to stay up a bit later in the summer but it’s still very important to maintain a regular bedtime and routine. For example, if you read a bedtime story to your child during the school year, then read a bedtime story during the summer.

For more information on these and other summer learning ideas, visit summerlearning.org and bealearninghero.org.  (For interviews with Aaron Philip Dworkin, email Ljohnson@summerlearning.org. For interviews with Bibb Hubbard, email dpark@learningheroes.org)