Elementary School Student Summer Learning Tips for Parents

The early literacy coach at Peck Elementary School in Warren offers advice on helping your kids avoid summer slide.

Summer slide. Summer brain drain. Whatever you call it, chances are you’re familiar with the impact that the summer months can have on a child’s academic progress. In fact, children lose a significant amount of knowledge in both reading and math during vacation — and, after the end of an unprecedented year, the impact could be greater.

“I think that’s what is anticipated,” says Brenda Tippery, early literacy coach at Peck Elementary School in Warren, which is part of Center Line Public Schools. “We didn’t get to cover all of our curriculum at the end of this year,” however teachers will be ready in the fall and will move students forward from wherever they are in their learning.

And for younger kids, the implications could be greater still. According to Scholastic, younger children — those in kindergarten, first and second grades — are more prone to summer slide than older students because they are at a more crucial stage of development where their learning follows a more accelerated curve.

However, there are ways to help your children avoid summer slide — and it starts with moms and dads.

“We have to remember that not all learning happens at school, and parents are their child’s most important teacher,” Tippery says. “You have your parents for your lifetime, so parents have to realize the power that they have and the influence they have.”

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Here, Tippery offer advice on helping elementary school students avoid summer slide.

Easy ways to keep learning all summer

“It isthe summer, and I think all teachers certainly recognize that,” she says. “You don’t want to sit students in front of a computer or a workbook the entire day, but I think parents should really keep a couple things in mind.”

For starters, whatever you plan to do, keep your plan simple and consistent — and try to incorporate these activities into your day-to-day lives.

Read aloud. “One of the most important things that parents can do would be to read aloud to your child,” Tippery says. “There’s so much power just in that consistent, daily practice of having a child listen to somebody else read.”

Whether you choose to read for 10 minutes or up to 30 minutes per day, reading aloud to your kid boasts big benefits. For one thing, children learn that reading is an enjoyable activity. And, developmentally, kids also are able to hear a model of fluid reading — in other words, how a parent’s voice changes and when they pause at a period, for example.

“Reading aloud can expand a child’s vocabulary and it can expose them to a lot of rare words,” she says, and even picture books contain many sophisticated words that parents might not use in day-to-day chats with their kids. While reading to her youngest son, Tippery took one page out of The Lion Kingand found 10 words she would not use in a conversation with him, such as “gorge” and “stampede.”

Children’s listening comprehension is a lot higher than what they can decode themselves when they read, so they are able to understand much more difficult books when you are reading to them than they are able to read on their own.

Look for literacy opportunities daily. You can find them in everyday activities such as a trip to the zoo, where you and your child can pick up a map or brochure to help you read and navigate your way through to see the animals. Or, have your child conduct some research about the zoo or some of the animals there beforehand.

Let your child help make the grocery list, too, or a list of ingredients for one meal. This will help your child use his or her spelling skills.

And if you are going to build something together, look for directions online and read those directions aloud.

“That’s a very important type of reading that we call procedural reading,” Tippery says. Procedural or “how-to” writing is also key, she adds. “If you’re going to do something, have them read the directions or even write out directions on how to do it.”

Ordering carryout from a restaurant, which requires you to read the menu and add up your total, can help with math and reading skills, too.

“There are a lot of reading and math skills that you can do just in your every day, and just looking for those opportunities within your day, children can really reap the benefits there,” she says.

It’s about being purposeful with what you’re doing with your children — simple activities are packed with learning opportunities.

“If you’re going on a road trip or a car ride, look at all the street signs,” she says. This is great if your child is learning letters and numbers.

Board games are another great way to develop literacy and math skills, social skills and more.

Let kids choose what they read. It’s the most important thing for summer reading, Tippery notes. Finding something that your child wants to read or a topic he or she enjoys learning more about. It could be magazines, poetry or joke books. For a kid who likes to sing, for example, print out words to a song for your child to read and sing along to.

“There’s a lot of opportunities in our everyday lives to build in any of those things if we are just a bit more intentional about it,” she says.

For more information on the Macomb Intermediate School District, visit misd.net.