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As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

Summer Activities

Many  parents buy workbooks for their children in order  for them  to keep up with or get ahead of their school work over  the summer.  This equating of workbooks with learning sometimes makes for  a  miserable  summer for some children  and  may  result  in turning  them  off to true learning.  Instead  of  making  summer vacation a continuation of the school year, parents can use  this time  to interact with their children in creative  and  enjoyable ways which are more educational.

Research  has shown that doing workbook pages does not  help children read better.  What helps children more is for parents to read  to them.  Summer vacation is a good time to do  this.   One good  system is to read to children a long book over a period  of time.  For example, “Alice in Wonderland” can be read chapter  by chapter.   Before beginning each chapter, the parent can ask  the children  what  happened so far and what they think  will  happen next.  Children not only are learning that there are  interesting things to read about in books, they are also learning how to  use language.

During  their vacation, children should not be pressured  to improve  their  own reading skills.  They should be  reading  for enjoyment.   This  is  best  accomplished  by  parents  providing material  that is below their current reading  level.   Sometimes children are embarrassed to pick out “easy” books for  themselves from  the  library but parents can do it for them.  I  would  not comment on the books chosen, just put them on the child’s bedside table  and after they have been read, simply provide more at  the same  level.   One of the most important things  that  should  be learned about reading is that it can be a pleasure rather than  a chore.

Children need a background of experience in order to  better understand the words they are reading.  These experiences can  be provided  in the summer.  There can be trips to the zoo,  to  the museum,  to the store, to the library, and to the park.   Parents can  engage in a dialogue with the children about what  they  saw and  what they liked about these trips.  They might even want  to keep a diary about their summer experiences.

Car trips provide many opportunities for learning.  You  can use the time to solve math problems.  How long does it take to go 90  miles at 55 miles an hour?  How many miles can you go  before you  will  need  more  gas?   Make  children  your  navigator  by teaching  them how to read maps.  There is a good book  entitled, “Games  for Children While Traveling” by Sid Hedges  which  gives other good ideas.

Card  games also fill many enjoyable vacation hours.  They help build  language, social skills, visual  memory, numerical sequence, computation and number concepts.  All ages can play and it helps build family cohesiveness.

Finally,  do  not forget board games.   They  help  children follow  rules,  take  turns, and learn math  skills.   For  young children there are games like Candyland and for older ones  there is always the old favorite, Monopoly.

The most natural, effective and rewarding learning experiences are those which take place between parent and  child. I encourage you to foster these experiences this summer and relax and enjoy your children.

Photo credit: Boeke / Creative Commons 2.0

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