Learn as you play during the summer holidays

Sunday, July 15, 2018

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We're already halfway through July, which means there are only about two weeks left for most school-based summer programmes. Many parents, we're sure, are wondering what to do with their child or children for the rest of the summer vacation to ensure that while they enjoy the holidays, they don't lose the learning acquired over the last nine months.

So how can parents help their kids enjoy their summer holidays while preparing them for the new school term? It is important to begin planning activities that will prevent summer learning loss. There are many summer activities and camps available for children of all ages. These include photography, culinary classes, painting, the creative arts and some academics. As you contemplate the wide array of choices, it is important to note that children need lots of opportunities to learn especially through active play. Children learn much more than we teach them; they often surprise us with their imaginative acumen so, engage them in tasks that allow them to explore and discover their environment, create things as they learn as well as tasks which will help them become active listeners and analysers of the world around them.

Here are some tips to keep them academically engaged during the summer:

1. Speak to your child's teacher about the curriculum for the upcoming school year and introduce your child to the academics. It may help your child to become familiar with the areas that will be taught in the new grade as well as develop an early interest in the areas that will be introduced in that grade.

2. Research programmes that will engage your child in the areas that will help prepare them for the new school year. For example, look for a science or computer programme if you know your child will be learning about marine life or robotics in the upcoming school year.

3. Have fun with your child while teaching. If your child will be learning fractions, cook together and divide the servings or share a tomato between both of you. If your child will be learning about living things, plan a visit to the zoo, or plant a garden. Also, encourage your child to search for connections and patterns and show them examples of things they are learning so that they can make sense of the world around them.

4. While family trips are important, there are also useful tools in your homes. Board games can be used to reinforce language and mathematics. These may include Scrabble, Monopoly or Chess, which require the child to develop skills like making projections, finding patterns and using critical thinking skills. While children are having fun playing these games, they are also building important skills required to be successful in their academic programme.

5. Parents are often concerned with the use of the technology. While technology is very useful as a tool in the learning process, it is important to plan how it will be used each day to enhance the learning experience. Additionally, it is critical to monitor the use of the computers, phones and tablets in the home.

6. While worksheets and workbooks are useful, you may get a better result by making lessons more interactive. You can do this by using a personal approach such as reading a story with your child at bedtime or learning a poem and incorporating rhythms as a family.

7. Meaningful and lasting lessons are learned from real-life experiences. Allow your child to engage in day-to-day activities such as going shopping for groceries and allowing him/her to pay for the items at the cashier and estimate the expected change. These kinds of activities will leave a lasting impact on your child.

For the summer and beyond, each opportunity that you provide for your child should open up new worlds for him/her enhanced with meaningful scholarly engagement as well as enjoyment. Though children learn at their own pace, they learn best when they are having fun. All children deserve the chance to reach their potential and the holiday is a great time to help them increase their understanding of the new curriculum such as that which supports the Primary Exit Profile (PEP) assessment, enhance their reading skills, use math drills while encouraging creative problem solving and higher-level thinking. Learning is an adventure, so be your child's guide as they pursue knowledge by keeping them motivated and curious so they can be successful in life.

Eleasia Charles BSc, MSc, MEd, JP is a reading specialist, literacy coach and certified early childhood and elementary education teacher now focused on developing curricula to facilitate the growth of young minds. For more tips email ecreadinglab@gmail.com.

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