How has your summer been? If it has been like ours, it has been filled with trips to the pool, a session of camp here and there, plenty of time at area parks, a family vacation, later bedtimes, and an absence of routine. With Little Miss Techie heading to kindergarten this fall, I’m torn between wanting her to enjoy her free time before resuming a full day of school in the fall and making sure her skills are up to par with her peers.
Summer hardly seems like the time for kids to buckle down and study but the teacher in me knows that without constant practice, the skills that students had in June are not up to par come August. According to the National Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, students will lose upwards of two months of grade level equivalency in skills over the summer months if they aren’t reading or partaking in educational activities during their summer break. Remediation in all subject areas need to be done at the start of each school year so kids start where they left off. I was never a proponent of year round school but now I see that more frequent, but shorter, breaks throughout the year prevent the loss of skills.
So what can you do for your kids during this last month of summer if you are worried that they might be victims of the summer slide?
- Visit the library. Many libraries have summer reading clubs that operate throughout August and provide a nice incentive for kids to read books of their choice. If your library doesn’t have a summer reading club, check out Scholastic’s Summer Challenge. Or if you can’t seem to motivate your child to pick up a books, take a look at summer reading tips from Reading is Fundamental.
- Make a digital storybook. Take some of those pictures from vacation, import them into PowerPoint (or an online photo site if you want a published book) and sit down with your child and work with them to write about each picture. The pictures will jog their memory and help them practice writing skills. Click here for directions on creating your own book in PowerPoint.
- Set up a lemonade stand. A lemonade stand is a fabulous way to practice math. Making lemonade from scratch involves measuring all the ingredients while the actual selling requires practice with making change.
- Go to a sporting event. If your child is more at home on the a grassy field or hardwood court than among stacks of books, invite them to a baseball or basketball game where they can practice their math. Math can go beyond the basics of keeping score. Why not have they study up by looking at their favorite players’ or teams’ statistics in the newspaper or online before you go. WNBA is offering discounted tickets with the code WNBABLOG for all families for the rest of the season. To see the remaining games of the season for your closest WNBA team, click here to access the special pricing page.
You can also access free and subscription sites that are designed to support your child’s learning. Here are some of my favorite free and paid sites for preschool through elementary aged students.
Preschool and Early Elementary (PreK-2)
BookFlix– We’ve loved free access to Scholastic’s BookFlix through our public library. The fiction and nonfiction parings are outstanding. The site features classic stories, is easy to navigate, and you may have free access through your public library system or school. Click here for my full review. Also great for upper elementary students.
Dance Mat Typing– This typing challenge has 4 levels and begins with the basics of the home row and progresses in difficulty as kids progress through the levels. This is a great basic typing program for elementary students.
One More Story– Our favorite online story site is running a summer special. For $15 you can get 3 months of online stories by artists whose books I loved as a child. To read more about One More Story, please click here.
PBS Kids Play– Fabulous playground that features favorite PBS characters who reinforce learning through fun interactive games. Little Miss Techie loves playing to reap rewards to decorate her virtual clubhouse. I like that I can see what she’s learning when she plays through the parent center. Here’s my full review if you would like to learn more.
DreamBox– This math site has drawn rave reviews from fellow moms. While I haven’t personally reviewed it, my friend Jessica (from A Parent in Silver Spring), and her fellow son and tester, Charlie, thoroughly tested it out and loved the site. Here’s Jessica’s review.
Seussville– The magical play land features many favorite Dr. Seuss characters and learning games that mirror what is taught in his books. Click here for my full review. Also good for upper elementary students.
Upper Elementary School (Grades 3-5)
SmartyCard– I reviewed SmartyCard way back in March when they first launched and sang their praises even well before they paid for me to attend BlogHer. (Here’s my review from March.) If you don’t want to commit to the pay for play just yet, check out the free content on their site.
PBS Kids Go– PBS content from shows like CyberChase, Arthur, Word Girl, The Electric Company, Maya and Miguel, Ruff appear in this awesome site that appeals to upper elementary students. My 3-5 graders had the opportunity to meet with the Director of PBS Kids Go during career day and loved “testing” the site for her!
FreeTypingGame– This site features 7 typing challenges to help your student become a more proficient keyboarder. Believe me when I say that kids could finish their work so much faster if they just practiced typing! Check out the site before turning your elementary aged child loose because I noticed some women dressed in cleavage bearing outfits in ads at the bottom of the screen. You may want to bookmark each of the 7 individual games to get around the banner ads since the games only seem to have text ads that go along with the theme of the game. For example, the Outerspace Fleet Commander typing challenge had ads for outer space bedding, typing games, and free typing jobs for cash. However, the content of the ads could change on a dime so beware!
FunBrain– This is a favorite among the 3-5th grade students in our school. They love the fun interactive games and don’t really view them as “work” but trust me, my colleagues wouldn’t let their kids “play” on this site if they weren’t learning!
Sports Illustrated Kids– There’s math involved in every sporting event whether it is the basic math of keeping score to the more complicated team statistics or a player’s averages. Sports Illustrated Kids does an outstanding job of presenting content about top stories in sports while making their site incredibly interactive. There’s also a place where kids can create their own fantasy team. Hey, if a fantasy team motivates a kid to learn during this last month of summer, than go for it!
Time For Kids– The weekly Time Magazine that arrives at your doorstep has a kids’ version that graces many classroom desktops but also has a free online version with current events at a readable level for elementary students.
These are just a few suggestions of some ways you can help beat the summer slide before school starts. For more great ideas, read posts written by other Yahoo MotherBoard members (Kim, Ilina, Julie, April, and Linsey), visit Shine and get the low down on topics about all things summer, and read research, stats, and suggestions by the National Center for Summer Learning.
No promotional consideration was paid by any of these companies for this post.
Original post by Tech Savvy Mama