By: Marilyn Urena Rincon
3rd grade ESL teacher, Bronx, NY
Teachers are reflecting on this school year and wondering what they can do better next year. Parents are scrambling to figure out daycare or camps for the summer. Students are fatigued from testing and are ready for summer fun. It’s that time of year again! Some parents are lucky enough to get their children into summer camps and programs that provide academic enrichment, but what if you can’t find a program or can’t afford one? How can we keep our children academically engaged during the summer?
Among educators, it is understood that students can lose up to two reading levels over the summer. Many students enjoy the pool, the beach, the park, and visiting friends over the summer. Still, they don’t read as much as they should. Reading is fundamental in almost every facet of life. We read signs, we read menus, we read advertisements, we read news articles, and so on. It is crucial that, during the summer, we encourage children to read. There are many fun, engaging ways to do this.
• Challenge your child to count the number of times they find something that needs to be read (like a street sign or the name of a store, etc.). This will help them see the value of knowing how to read.
• Choose a book that you and your child can both read. You can read it together for 20 minutes every night or read it at separate times and discuss it together. Make sure you find books that are on your child’s grade level so that they are reading text with appropriate vocabulary and rigor.
• Read one news article together each day and discuss it. The article doesn’t have to be long, and it can be from a variety of children’s websites, such as kidshealth.org or kid.nationalgeographic.com. Your child may be able to share some of his/her favorite websites!
• Write book reports. During the school year, your child must read 25 books. Some classes require book reports to demonstrate having read 25 books. Using internet search engines like Google or Bing to find book reports is an excellent way to get your child reading with a purpose.
The Common Core Learning Standards, a list of national academic achievement expectations for grades K-12, are more challenging than past standards. This means that, for example, expectations in Math for 3rd grade students are now actually expectations for 2nd grade students. This means that we must prepare our children year-round for the challenging math problem solving concepts and skills that they will encounter in school and on the state tests in the spring. As in reading, there are creative ways to engage your child in Math learning during the summer.
• Give your child a copy of your family’s grocery list. Allow the child to estimate the prices for the items and add them up. If the child is younger, allow them to count how many of each item you are purchasing.
• At any store, ask your child to help you count the money that you have predicted/estimated you must pay the cashier. If they are older, they may even be able to help you estimate your change.
• Drill the Multiplication and Division facts each night. For younger children, use items at home to add and subtract (i.e.: five beans and you remove one; or, four plates and you add two more, etc).
These ideas could help keep your child’s mind academically engaged and help him/her be ready to start the new school year. If they engage in academic activities daily, it will benefit their performance in the new school year. Reading and Mathematics are core subjects that find their way into many other subjects. It’s important that we don’t allow our children to lose what they have gained during the school year.