So how do you prevent the loss of skills?
As has been discussed on this blog, even we parents don't want to put all the gung-ho effort into learning activities that we do during a normal "school year." We are busy and we want a break. But taking a full break from learning activities can be detrimental to children.
There is good news.
I recently read The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease (which I absolutely love and 100% recommend...but more on that in another post). In it, he briefly discusses summer setback and ways to prevent it. Here are the factors that prevent/minimize summer setback (pages 87-89):
- Model: model reading. This means that you read when your kids can see you read.
- Offer reading space: provide space for reading.
- Variety: provide a variety of reading materials. Examples are magazines, newspapers, and books.
- Bookstore/Library: visit the bookstore and/or library. See Library Day!
- Vacation: a vacation or summer camp out of town provides new experiences. They meet new people and see new things. This increases background knowledge and teaches new vocabulary words.
- Educational programs: when you watch TV and videos (and even listen to the radio), watch educational and informational programs.
- Read to child: Read to the child daily. See Simple Summer Fun: Reading. See also literacy blog label for more posts.
- Encourage child to read: even if your child can't "read," he or she can sit and look at books or magazines.
- Field Trips: visit the fire stations, museums, the zoo, etc. See Simple Summer Fun: The Zoo and Simple Summer Fun: Museums
Why write this post now, at the end of the summer? Several reasons. One is that I just read this book last week, so the subject wasn't at my forefront. Another is I know if I wait until next May, I will forget all about it. Another is I hope that you will read this now and somehow remember it next summer and turn to it. Finally, because I know I am kind of a little nervous about summer setback in my own child. I do remember being aware of summer setback in myself. But this is a simple list. It involves easy things to do, and many of them are on the Simple Summer list, so perhaps it can help ease our (or my) own worries a bit.