Depending on who you ask, there are several differing opinions about the best way to spend the summer holiday.
Some of these include the idea that there is nothing like the summer slide. Children will forget anyway, they are on holiday. A child who knows will always know. However, according to the best advice from teachers about the Summer holiday, some children come back knowing less than they did when they left.
According to Mrs. Okeyinfu Ajayi. Learning Director, Busy Minds School. At the end of the summer holidays, most children need a bit of a prompt or push. That is what the summer slide is, knowledge no longer at the kids’ fingertips as it is during the academic session. The Summer Slide is real, it is not fiction. However, there are some recommended solutions for parents to keep in mind about the long summer holiday.
Mrs Joy Isa is an Education Consultant and Head of Junior School at Children’s International School and shares that, the summer holiday presents a time for much-needed rest and relaxation. Children and young people all need this time after approximately nine months of lessons, projects, assignments, quizzes, tests and examinations.
Once the holidays begin, all talk of learning is often seen as punishment for poor examination results.
A few days, or weeks, before the commencement of the next academic session, however, there is often a mad rush. This rush is an attempt to revive the cognitive engines that have been shut down over the summer holiday. Parents; and on rare occasion, the children, begin to dust the books that were purchased over the holiday to remind themselves of some knowledge and skills. As a teacher when it comes to the summer, she shares that it is important to keep those cognitive engines running throughout the holiday in fun and creative ways.
Furthermore, Mrs Isa shares some activities that should never stop over the summer holiday. These include reading, thinking and learning support. This can provide some support for parents as they plan to avoid the brain drain that is often synonymous with the summer holidays. Try one or two of them out and you will certainly see the difference in the coming academic session.
Getting children to read high-interest material is important. Reading can be a variety of graphic novels, mini-biographies of famous people, articles on current affairs, business development and innovation.
Mrs Isa shares that reading for pleasure should be a lifestyle. However, the reality is that the popularity of video games and social media threatens this reading culture. A practical intervention could be to agree that the number of hours given to the video games should also be given to reading.
Buy books and assign timelines within which they should be completed. Discuss chapters with your children for a few minutes every day to ensure they are actually reading. You could also purchase audio versions; thereby appealing to both visual and auditory senses.
For younger children, you can read out to your child and have your child read to you. Create a question and answer session based on what you read. When done in an informal style the child does not feel pressured and you are encouraging their comprehension skills.
This is a skill which is unfortunately greatly diminished over the holidays. Children are taken from summer camp to the shopping mall, without consultation. Children are told what is happening when it will happen and how it will happen. Involving children in decision making promotes critical thinking and problem-solving. Assign low-risk decisions to them and accept their decisions. Your redirection should be simply advisory; let them make some decision.
Parental intervention to encourage thinking could include letting the children play thinking games like Sudoku, Solitaire, Scrabble, Chess, Whot, Ludo, Eyo, Monopoly, Word searches, Cryptograms, Crosswords and Jigsaw puzzles. It is even better if you actually assign times when you play these games with them. These games all promote critical thinking, which enhances problem-solving, innovation and creativity.
30 minutes spent on any of these on a daily basis will work wonders for cognitive development. They will also learn to persevere when they hit challenges. Additionally, they will learn and develop more skills as they begin to win the games.
Children who have learning difficulties, need to be reminded of the academic concepts they were taught. The opportunity to revisit concepts learnt and to apply the knowledge and skills within low-pressure contexts; will prove invaluable to their development.
Learning times should be structured so that the children have independent and supervised learning times. This should include times to learn academic and non-academic skills such as swimming, sports, playing an instrument, drawing, cooking, chores etc).
Parents should schedule times to review school work each week. This way the extensive pressure in the last few weeks of the holiday is minimised.
Consistency is very important; so draw up a time-table for the children. The summer schedule should include time for playtimes, downtimes, and learning times.
Know The Learning Goals in School
Mrs Okeyinfu Ajayi advises that you need to know what your children are learning based on their age or class. You can weave connective home experiences around those things.
Math is one of the topics that children struggle with the most after the Summer. Parents can help by helping their children engage in carrying out mathematic calculations regularly.
During the summer it is important to integrate play with academics; in a fun way. You can do this while walking on the road, driving through the city, at the mall, in the kitchen. For example, Ken, can you bring me ten spoons? this teaches numbers in a simple way and keeps Ken learning.
Create blocks of time whereby you can be with your child and establish connections with your child. This could be 1 hour, 2 hours or whatever your schedule permits.
During this time engage in activities with your child. You can buy crayons and colouring books and colour together.
An easy way to teach your child numbers, colours, shapes in the home is to give instructions such as; get me 3 colours, 4 blocks. While carrying out such activities you reiterate what has been taught in the classroom.
A major priority to look out for in summer camps should be safety and proper integration of play and learning. You can shuffle learning at home with summer camp activities weekly. The best option is to enrol in a good summer camp that is genuinely engaging children in age-appropriate activities.
Children feel isolated these days so find out what connects you
Summer gives you time to bond with your children. If you have older children listen to them and find out what they would love to try. It is an opportunity to learn about their interests.
Talk about cultural differences to the children when you travel, discuss differences between your travel destination and home. You can discuss the difference in culture, lifestyle, architecture etc.
You can carry out basic activities: sweep together, fold clothes, dance together. Give room for self-expression because this helps. It enables you to know where the gaps are, and help them pick up the skills they need.
While it can be very difficult to engage children; being intentional will make the summer both enjoyable and full of learning.