Education Solutions: Tips to support summer learning for families
Splash parks. Ice cream. Lightning bugs. For many people, these things mean summer fun. But along with the fun, there are also challenges: mosquitoes, humidity, and sunburn. This is true of summer learning. There are activities and resources for children to gain experiences and build background knowledge. However, there is the risk of “summer slide.” Students may lose the gains made in reading, writing, and math during the weeks away from their classrooms.
Practitioners spend hundreds of hours during the school year planning lessons, assessing learning, and supporting students. So why not plan for summer learning? Families and caregivers are often willing to support their children over the summer, but they need help to plan for summer success.
Now is the time to lay the groundwork for families and students to experience summers filled with learning.
- Make individualized summer learning plans. Meet with families and identify areas of growth for their children. Brainstorm activities they can do at home to support learning. Ask them to name resources both within their families and their communities that can be used to encourage summer learning. These plans are time-consuming, but the investment of time allows parents and caregivers to understand the importance of summer learning.
- Research low-cost or free events that are occurring in your neighborhood or community. Look for free days at museums, community festivals, library programs, and free concerts. Share this information with families. Help them make plans to attend community events that will build their children’s background knowledge.
- Make Brain Boxes with families. Decorate empty tissue boxes. Create paper strips with activities for summer learning and put them inside the box. Families can pull one strip to complete each day throughout the summer. You can provide activities on pre-made strips or have parents create them. This activity is great for a family workshop, parent time, or PACT time. Some suggestions for simple summer learning activities might be:
- Practice writing your name (or sight words) with sidewalk chalk.
- Roll two dice. Add (or multiply) the two numbers to practice math facts.
- Write a review for a TV show or movie that you’ve watched.
- Set up a Camp Wonderopolis counselor’s account for yourself and help families set up Camper accounts for their children. Camp Wonderopolis is a great tool for engaging families in summer learning. Families can read or listen to informational text, watch short videos, and discuss interesting photos on wide-range of topics. They can also gain experiences through Maker activities. This year families will explore music through a Symphony of Wonders. As a counselor, you can check students’ participation and interact with them on the Wonder Wall.
- Make Summer Learning Toolkits for each family. Choose a container. Gather brochures about summer reading at the library, free activities at the park, or local festivals. Ask for donations of books, sidewalk chalk, dice, pencils, flower seeds, jump ropes, or other summer learning tools from local businesses or organizations. Create a simple direction sheet explaining how to use the items. By providing materials and ideas, you can remove barriers that might prevent families from engaging in summer learning activities.
Now is the time to plan activities to support summer learning. Help families understand the importance of learning throughout the summer. Provide them with tools and strategies for engaging with their children. Help them make connections with local resources. As practitioners, support your families in preparing for a summer of learning.
How do you encourage summer learning with your families? Share your ideas in the comments below to help our community prepare for a summer filled with learning.
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