How can my child maintain academic skills over the summer?

     Most kids view summer as a welcome reprieve from the classroom and aren’t anxious to work on academic subjects at home. This causes many parents to worry that their child will lose ground over the summer. They believe that after two and one-half to three months without math, reading, and spelling, he’ll forget a great deal and may fall behind.

     Some parents decide to enroll their child in summer school, either for remedial work or enrichment. Most school systems offer a summer program, usually aimed at students with academic difficulties. Some parents hire a tutor to maintain or enhance their child’s academic skills. However, most families don’t pursue such structured learning during the summer.

     Instead, they design their own plans (or plans suggested by their child’s teacher) to keep the summer months from being all play and no work. Parents may have him read for a certain period each day, or she may set goals for the summer such as learning multiplication tables, studying vocabulary words, researching a topic, or working through a book of science experiments.

     The most important thing you can do to help your child maintain his skills is encourage him to read. You can get reading lists from the school, libraries, on-line sites, and books about literacy. Encourage your child to join the local library summer reading club. Let him choose materials that interest him—novels, biographies, sports stories, magazines. If he has a hobby, urge him to read about his subject and study it in-depth.

     You should also encourage him to write. He may like keeping a journal or computer file of his daily activities, thoughts, and feelings. He can write stories and poems or a play that he and his friends or siblings can act out. He can also write letters and emails to friends, relatives, or a pen pal.

     You can set aside time to read out loud to him or to work on specific areas with which he needs help. But keep the lessons short and light and consider offering occasional rewards to keep him going. If he does math or spelling periodically, he may accomplish quite a bit before school begins. Academic learning can certainly continue during the summer, but you should present it in a relaxed way, remembering that your child sees summer primarily as a time for fun.

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