I originally wrote this blog during the COVID shut down, but the practices are absolutely true for summers as well! I know it’s hard to keep students engaged during summer, but it’s worth it!
There are 5 things I want you to remember that will keep your students moving forward during this time:
- Read to your kids every day.
- Have your students read (whatever they want) every day.
- Practice basic math facts: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
- Have conversations with your kids – A LOT.
- Have your students write organically.
Let’s take a look at each of these:
Read to your kids every day. If you have students that are 5th grade and below, read to them every day. This builds fluency, comprehension and vocabulary. You can even pick a book that is slightly higher than their grade level. We like to pick chapter books that my fourth grader may not fully understand if he was reading on his own. Tate went through a time period where he really struggled with reading on his own, but he loved our time of reading together. When he would make comments like “I hate reading!”, I would remind him, “No, you love reading – you just need more practice. Think if we didn’t have our reading time.” Reading to your student brings so much value, and it can become a time that you both look forward to. Check out books from the local library. Pick out a few from 1/2 Price Books. Trade with friends!
Have your kids read (whatever they want) every day. Graphic novels? Yes. Magazines about cars? Yes. Lower level books that they are interested in? Yes. They are building fluency, interest and reading comprehension, even if it’s not a “passage” or “higher level” book. Don’t make this a battle. This is the time for reading to be enjoyable. They can Google subjects they are interested in and read articles online. Also, 20 min a day is plenty. They don’t need to read for an hour. If you have younger students, give them a few minutes of “book” time, where they get to look through books that they like (even if it’s only 5 minutes!).
*Reading to your students and having them read regularly and consistently are the main things you can do for your students right now to set them up for success in every other skill!
Practice basic math facts – addition, subtraction, multiplication, division. Obviously this one somewhat depends on the age of your students. If you have pre-k – Kinder students, practice counting. If you have younger school age students, practice addition and subtraction, and if you have older elementary students (and even middle school), practice all four math operations. Math is comprehensive, and if students can become really strong in counting, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, they will be able to learn the other math skills much easier! There are apps and websites for this, but you can also make flash cards for the students to practice at home (and even better – they can make their own flash cards)!
Have conversations with your kids – A LOT. Ask them questions about their thoughts and opinions. Start conversations with them about their friends, or observations about the nature around your house. Watch a funny video online, or read an article, and then talk about it. Students are used to talking their learning out with each other, and now they have you! Having conversations builds dialogue skills, helps them form opinions, and increases their vocabulary. Don’t let students (especially older students) cocoon into their own world. Discussion and dialogue is a super important skill that students must develop – and it will be a great way to really see how your students think about topics.
Have your students write organically. What is the point of writing? To process thoughts. To communicate. Now your students can have the opportunity to do this without fear of a grade! Write letters to family members, or keep a journal and write a few minutes in it every few days. This will build the language of writing without having to worry about all of the grammar and punctuation. They will continue to learn the conventions in school, but what most kids struggle with is getting their thoughts down on paper. What a perfect time to build their skill and confidence in this area!
Learning occurs most when our affective filter is down, meaning we are not stressed or bored. What a perfect time, while your student is in his or her “safe place”, to actually move them forward academically! If you can focus on these areas, I promise, you will see growth. 🙂
And one more side note…they may fight you on this. Your child is worth the battle!
For more information about Jenn Kleiber and The Responsive Classroom, visit www.theresponsiveclassroom.org!