Parents helping a child prepare for that first post-summer-vacation reading quiz often find themselves wondering if he has forgotten everything he learned the year before. Research shows that the “summer brain-drain” phenomenon is no figment of the imagination. Over summer vacation, children can forget more than two months worth of school instruction.
“Research by experts verifies what parents and teachers have long known – over the three short months of summer vacation, most children forget a significant amount of what they learned during the previous school year,” says Ron Fairchild, executive director of the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning. In fact, Johns Hopkins research shows that teachers typically spend four to six weeks reteaching last year’s lessons. “Parents can help children stay in shape academically by making learning a year-round habit,” says Fairchild.
So how can parents help children keep their brains in top condition for back-to-school excellence?
“First, make it fun,” advises Wendy Bronfin, vice president of education and product development at Educate Products, makers of Hooked on Phonics, the brand that over 2 million families have turned to for teaching their children reading, math and study skills. “There are a lot of great ways to integrate learning into your everyday activities, even while on vacation. Summer is a great time to spend with your child and foster a lifelong love of reading.”
Bronfin suggests coaching your child through the following year-round fun brain exercises:
* Keep kids reading. Before school starts, help your child choose a short list of books to read. While you can suggest a book, author, series or subject you think your child might enjoy, let the child choose what he wants to read. Reinforce the idea that reading is fun.
* A library visit is a great way to occupy a rainy summer afternoon. Suggest that your child invite a friend. Make sure everyone in your library party checks out something new and begins reading it that day. Make trips to the public library a regular family outing!
* Help your child prepare for the inevitable “What I Did on Summer Vacation” report he’ll have to give when he returns to school. Before taking a family vacation, read with your child about the destination.
* Help your child look up online the lyrics to fun summer-themed songs. Kids find computers fun and the technology can be a great way to boost their interest in reading.
* With summer comes a host of children’s movies. Before you take your child to the latest hit, sit down with him and read the book version first. Then see the movie and discuss which version he liked best and why.
* Make reading aloud a family experience. At the end of a long summer day, take turns reading from a classic book the whole family can enjoy. Set aside a regular family read-aloud time, usually 20 to 30 minutes, or as long as it takes to read a certain number of pages or chapters. This can become a favorite family tradition.
* Demonstrate that reading is part of everyday life by encouraging your child to read things found on summer vacation, like a newspaper from a new town, travel magazines, barbecue recipes, maps and game instructions.
* Play games that encourage reading and learning, like the classic I Spy game or a letter-sound treasure hunt, during which you hide around the yard treats or toys that all begin with the same letter.
* Try an activity kit. The Hooked on Phonics Super Activity Kits are filled with hours of brain-building, fun activities. The kits use a DVD loaded with MP3 songs, music videos, cartoons and adventures with Lou the Hippo to help keep kids educationally active during the summer. Each kit includes an activity pad, write-on/wipe-off journal and special erasable crayons and stickers, all in a convenient resealable package. Hooked on Math products are also especially relevant since research shows summer learning loss is more pronounced with math.
Hooked on Phonics products can be found at participating retailers or online at http://www.hookedonphonics.com/ or http://www.amazon.com/.
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