LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Summer shouldn’t be a vacation from learning

As a teacher, I wanted to remind parents that as summer arrives and kids stop coming to school, that does not mean that they should stop learning. As a parent, you are your child’s first, and often best, teacher. The summer is a great time to teach young kids many things about the world that are essential to becoming successful in school and life.

Of course, reading is by far the most important skill to develop for young children. School-age children should be striving to read daily throughout the summer. This is also a great opportunity to make trips to the local library to determine the areas of interest for your child and to participate in the summer reading program that is offered through the library.

In addition to reading, there are many other learning opportunities for kids that are simple to incorporate into daily activities. Here are a few examples:

•A major area of importance when learning to read is developing a rich vocabulary. This can be done through TV, movies, print, or even conversation. When confronted with an unknown word, help your children to identify and attempt to define the meaning by using the context. This will not only teach them the meaning of these new words, but also help them to develop the skill of using context to decipher meaning on their own.

•Teach children about money — the different forms of money, how to identify different coins, their values, how to count it, etc. Adding up amounts of money and determining change is a life skill that everyone needs to know.

•Find an analog clock and teach children how to tell time. Once they can tell time accurately, teach about elapsed time and how to determine how much time has passed between events.

•Take them grocery shopping. While there, children get a chance to practice self-control, manners, and how to act in a public place. A large percentage of kids today lack these skills. You can also discuss spending money wisely and how to save money through coupons or sales. Teaching about a healthy diet and good food choices is also important.

•Play board games as a family. Today’s kids can learn many things from the same games that we played growing up. Monopoly, for example, teaches students adding and subtracting. It teaches them about having a budget and making cost-effective decisions. Like any board game, it also provides an opportunity to practice taking turns, playing fair, as well as winning and losing in a graceful and appropriate way.

•Develop their work ethic. Give kids chores and expect them to help around the house. It is important for children to know that not everything they do in life will be exciting and entertaining. Challenging tasks that can be complex and take extensive time and effort are very valuable in developing work ethic. Sadly, many students lack the ability to stick with a difficult assignment that takes a lot of effort and therefore fall behind their peers in the classroom.

Work ethic is something that can be improved at home by giving the child a difficult or challenging situation and allowing them to figure it out and take care of it on their own. This could be a helpful task such as weeding the garden or folding a load of laundry.

Or, you could make it a fun challenge like having them complete a puzzle on their own or build a tower taller than themselves using household items. They could even create, write, and illustrate their own story and read it aloud to the family. Getting kids thinking, working hard, and figuring things out on their own is the goal.

•Get your kids interested in the world. Teach them about places, events, nature, people, your job, etc. Urge them to ask you questions about different topics and answer as many as you can. When they run out of questions, ask them questions that start with “Why do you think … ?” and have them develop their own answer. The key is to get them to problem-solve and think creatively in order to figure things out.

Our schools were never meant to be the sole provider of education. Much of what kids learn about the world and about life can and should come from home. Parents, the next three months will provide many learning opportunities, and the teaching responsibilities will be yours!

Joshua Judy, M.Ed.
Second-grade teacher,
Woodbridge ECEC

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