Closing the summer learning gap June 5, 2017 Jenny MathisFamilies School Age No Comments by Jenny Mathis, School Age Specialist In the blink of an eye, the school year is over and another summer is before you. The majority of us out there are working parents, and we often have a hard balance to achieve in the summer: keeping kids safe, enriching their learning, and seeing that they have an enjoyable time. If you’re like many parents, you secured a spot for your child at a local day camp or child care facility. As a concerned and engaged parent, you may be wondering how your child will fare in the two months spent away from the formal education they received at school. Will they have an educational experience that will fill the gap of school? Research shows all young people experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities over the summer, and most students lose almost two months of grade level equivalency in math computation skills 1. While these stats are startling, you can do your part to help your child lessen these kinds of summer losses. Knowing these gaps exist is your first line of defense when it comes to helping your child. Instead of relying on the summer camps and child care to help fill the gaps, you can help fill the gap by doing your part at home. Parents are in fact their child’s original teacher, right? The thought of trying to facilitate your child’s learning is probably the last thing on your mind after a long day at work. However, it may involve less effort than you think. TIPS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD ENGAGED OVER THE SUMMER Below are some simple strategies that you can use at home with your child: Limit screen time. Set limits on how much television, computer, video game, and tablet time your child may spend, based on the amount appropriate for his or her age. Encourage games and websites that are educational and interactive. The Minnesota Parent Center offers a page of links with websites that are parent-approved, safe, and educational. Use practical applications to teach. Participate with your kids in everyday activities. Help your kids set up a lemonade stand. Let them help you cook dinner or bake a dessert. Put them in charge of tasks while grocery shopping, such as keeping track of coupons or finding the lowest-priced item. Encourage exploration and adventure (even if it’s only in your backyard)! Ask open-ended questions to spark your child’s curiosity. Take your child places in your community. Local parks, museums, theaters, libraries, or zoos help children learn about the world around them. As you can see, many of the strategies are things you are probably doing anyway. Why not capitalize on the experiences and turn them into teaching moments for your child? The benefits will be long lasting. A wise man once said, ”Education is not the learning of facts, but the training of the mind to think.” Albert Einstein Here’s to a summer of experiences and learning that lasts a lifetime! 1 National Summer Learning Association: http://www.summerlearning.org/?page=know_the_facts Cover image by Flickr user Penn State, Creative Commons license.