Summer is here and while this can mean great things for children who have been looking forward to long, lazy days playing outside and enjoying time with friends and family, it can also have negative consequences on their learning.
Research has found that rather shockingly at least two-thirds of children fall behind in their studies over the summer holidays, with children slipping back up to three months in their maths and English progress.
This is not surprising as midway through the summer holiday, after the excitement has worn off, children are often bored and restless while parents are frustrated and bewildered as to how to keep them alert and entertained.
Carey Ann Dodah, Head of Curriculum at English and maths tuition provider, Explore Learning (www.explorelearning.co.uk) has the following advice for parents keen to keep their children’s minds busy over the summer:
- Story Time: Encourage your children to keep up their reading by introducing a ‘story time’ at a set time each day. This could include them reading a story to you, you reading to them or them writing their own and reading it back to you. Encourage children to review the books they have read as well to help check their understanding. If you’re short of reading material the Reading Chest runs a great programme that provides books from all the main reading schemes that your children will be working on at school. www.readingchest.co.uk
- Mix shopping with learning: Get your young ones involved in the weekly shop by asking them to recite prices and add up what’s in the trolley. Children can write the shopping list with you and tick it off as you go.
Visit the library: Libraries are havens for parents and children alike. For parents because they’re free to enter – and a great place to get some peace and quiet. For children because they offer a whole world of fiction to get them inspired. Many libraries put on events during the summer holidays so check with your local library for more information.
Bake and Read: Turn baking cakes and cookies into an educational game. Get the children in the kitchen and ask them to read the ingredients and instructions. They can cook and learn at the same time. For older children you can test their division, multiplication and problem solving skills by asking them to adapt the recipe for different amounts of servings.
Discovery: Give your child a new word each day and explain what it means. For that day, see if they can use the word in a sentence as much as possible.
- Games and Apps: You could say that many children are more technologically minded than their parents and there are many educational games and apps that you can download to keep them busy. The Explore Learning Times Tables App is free, easy to use and encourages children to have fun while practicing their times tables. The app can be downloaded here: http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/explore-learning-times-tables/id468427944?mt=8
- Museums: Do you remember your first trips to a museum? Well so will they. Museums are great for children exposing them to new ideas and experiences that you wouldn’t be able to do at home. Just be prepared to do your research to so you can answer all the ‘why’ questions on the way home!
- Tuition: Perhaps the best way to boost your child’s confidence, keep up or stay ahead during the summer break is through extra tuition. It doesn’t need to be intensive just a couple of hours a week can make all the difference. Explore Learning run free taster sessions so you and your child can see if you like it. Find your nearest centre by going to www.explorelearning.co.uk
- Make play dates: Mixing with other children will encourage them to feed off others’ energy and keep their social skills up. It’s great if you can meet up with children who will be in their class in the new term this will help to make a smoother transition in September and settle more readily back into the classroom environment.
- Bath Time: For young ones make bath time fun by using colourful letter or number magnets. These float on the water and can be used in fun games that help with their counting and alphabet learning.
The most important thing through all of this is of course for you and your child to have fun and enjoy your summer holiday together!
About Carey Ann Dodah
Carey Ann Dodah is the Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning and a mother to a six and four year old. Explore Learning provides extra tuition in English and maths to children aged 5 to 14. They have 90 centres located across the country with over 24,000 children attending Explore Learning centre each week. All courses are aligned to the National Curriculum and the Curriculum for Excellence and Explore Learning tutors select appropriate resources for each child to ensure they cover a combination of courses, enabling them to reach their potential. Visit www.explorelearning.co.uk
*COOPER, H., NYE, B., CHARLTON, K. and GREATHOUSE, S. (1996). ‘The effects of summer scores: a narrative and meta-analytic review’, Review of Educational Research, 66, 227–68.