How To Help Your Kids Retain What They've Learned Over the Last School Year
Here are some stimulating activities that can help your kids retain the valuable math, reading, and science skills they learned before school closed for the summer holidays.
Don't let brain drain set in over the summer holidays.
As a parent or guardian, (or even favorite auntie) of a young student, you want your kids to do well in school. You want them to feel competent and capable so that they can advance successfully from one year to the next. But when long holidays and summer breaks roll around, kids don't always retain the things they learned in the previous school year.
Did you know that according to research conducted in both Canada and the United States, school children, on average, lose the equivalent of one month’s worth of classroom learning over the summer holidays? After all the effort your kids put into getting through the school year, and all the time you and your spouse devoted to helping them get their homework done each night, doesn’t it make sense to help them retain as much of that knowledge as possible?
Here are some stimulating activities that can help your kids retain the valuable math, reading, and science skills they learned before school closed for the holidays. These activities not only activate kids’ minds and keep them from suffering the dreaded brain drain, many of these activities also promote a strong work ethic, positive study skills, and all around good citizenship.
Help your children organize a fundraiser. Host a reading challenge where they pledge to read a certain number of books before the holiday break ends. Have them collect donations from relatives, neighbors, and your friends and co-workers. Help them choose a specific charity that they want to raise money for. Then have them write an essay or short story about why that particular charity deserves the cash pledges they raised.
Keep them in suspense! Promote reading, writing, and creative problem solving skills by encouraging kids to write new endings to their favorite mystery or adventure novels.
Make a family tree. Visit the library. Go down to your community’s archives or scour the internet to help your children create a family tree. Pull out old photos, albums, letters, and records that have been languishing in the closet. Have your kids phone their aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents to interview them about their childhood memories. Get crafty putting the family tree together. It could be in the form of a collage, a video montage, a scrapbook, or even a real tree with handmade ornaments that tell a unique story about each family member. (Don't forget to include beloved pets on the tree, too!)
Volunteer. Find some kid-friendly volunteer activities that you can do with your child(ren). Kids between the ages of five and twelve may not be ready to take up a volunteer project on their own, but perhaps there are some community-related projects that you can work on with them. Check out your local volunteer resource center, neighborhood house, or recreation center for volunteer activities that help make the world a better place. Events such as charity car washes, park clean-ups and caring for animals in a shelter encourage physical activity. These volunteer jobs also help kids understand how everything is interconnected. Bonus: Volunteering alongside your kids is a great way for you to spend more quality time with them. (They grow up so fast!)
Have kids re-write the lyrics to their favorite songs. If you can’t get your kids to completely unplug from their iTunes and MP3 players, challenge them to re-write the lyrics to their favorite songs.
Write old-fashioned fan mail. When I was a kid, the only way to get in touch with our favorite actors, singers, and rock stars was to write a letter by hand. There was no such thing as Twitter or Facebook Fan Pages to send adoring accolades to our idols. We wrote our letters by hand, filling them with stickers, photos, drawings, poems, and tributes to our superstar heroes. Then we mailed them off and watched the mailbox every day, eagerly awaiting a reply. Why not encourage your kids to write a letter to their favorite actors or pop stars?
Roll in the dough. In Canada, we just learned that the copper penny will be phased out within the next few years. Now is a great time to get kids involved in a penny drive. When I was a kid, my father gave me and my brother his massive jar of pennies that he'd been contributing to for over 20 years.The deal was, if we rolled all the pennies and took them to the bank, we could buy a VCR for the family room. (This was 35 years ago when a VCR was a big deal!)
Encourage your kids to learn a new language. Challenge your kids to learn a few words in a new language, especially a language that they won’t be learning next year in school. How about Cantonese? Or American Sign Language? What language did their distant relatives speak? The idea here is not necessarily to become completely fluent in a new language. You simply want to spark their curiosity about other cultures and ways of communicating.
Don't let those nights of helping with homework through the school year go to waste! Keep your kids happy, healthy, and engaged over the summer holidays!
1. Canadian Council on Learning, RAND Corp.
There is no end to education. It is not that you read a book, pass an examination, and finish with education. The whole of life, from the moment you are born to the moment you die, is a process of learning.— Jiddu Krishnamurti
© 2017 Sally Hayes