Engaging your child during the summer break can prevent months of academic loss, especially in the areas of reading and math.

After the pressures of GSAT, CSEC and other exams children and parents are more than grateful for the unstructured play and downtime summer break presents.

Unfortunately, children who do not remain academically engaged over the summer lose some of the learning they received in the previous school year. Students who are not stimulated over the summer break can lose from two to three months in reading and math. In fact summer break is one of the most important, and least acknowledged, causes of underachievement in schools.

Now, how do you, as a parent or guardian prevent this from happening to your child or children? Here are 10 economical and fun ways to keep your child academically engaged during the summer

  •   Enroll your child in a summer program – Summer programs offered by schools, recreation centers, universities and community-based organizations can be educational, can fit a wide range of budgets and can be focused on a topic that interests your child.
  • Read books with your child – Make time to read with younger children each day. If your children are older, encourage them to discuss or write about the book they are reading.
  • Visit places that can be educational – If your family is planning to spend the day together, try to incorporate some fun learning wherever you go. Visiting parks, museums, zoos or nature centers can provide a low-cost educational opportunity for your child that’s also fun for the whole family.
  • Take regular trips to the library – Your community library is a great no cost resource for you and your child. You can check out books that interest your child or enroll in library summer reading programs.
  • Incorporate math into your daily activities – You can help keep up your child’s math skills by measuring items around the house and tracking daily temperatures. At the grocery store, you can add, subtract or multiply the prices of items. Involving your child while cooking is also a great way to expose them to fractions.
  • Start getting ready for the next year – Reach out to the school or talk to teachers at the next grade level to find out what your child will be learning. Many schools have summer packets of math and reading skill activities that they are happy to share.
  • Make a movie – Encourage your child to make a movie with a smart phone or tablet with their friends that features characters from a book they have read or a story they have written. This presents a creative opportunity to develop decoding, inference and critical thinking skills needed for reading and other subjects.
  • Flash Cards – Good old flash cards might seem antiquated, but daily review of basic math facts will go a long way in helping students to stave off summer learning loss. And throw in a few word problems while you’re at it. You might even want to feature characters from students’ summer reading list in those word problems just for good measure.
  • Use websites – There are a host of free educational websites for children at all stages of the learning curve that can keep your children on track for the summer.
  • Attend cultural events – With Emancipation Day and Independence Day falling in the middle of the summer break, there are a host of activities across the island and even in the Diaspora related to Jamaica’s history and culture. Make the time to take your children to a few of these events (some of which are FREE) and use it as a learning experience the whole family can enjoy!!
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