With no academic enrichment plan in place during the summer months, the number of instructional hours students receive each week decreases dramatically. This situation causes “summer learning loss,” a term used to describe a student’s educational deterioration during the summer months. Summer gives new significance to the phrase, “Use it or lose it.” As with most societal issues, low-income students suffer the most, losing more than two months of reading achievement over the course of a summer.
To combat this occurrence, use the steps below to create an academic plan that may increase or at least sustain your child’s current academic skills.
Pinpoint areas of improvement
Gather information from your child’s 2014-2015 school year to assess his or her learning challenges. Did they score lower than the state or national average in a particular subject area on a standardized test? In which subjects did they receive lower than a C grade?
Which problems did they get wrong on graded work? Start with those. Identify the subject areas, skills, and concepts in which your child could improve. If he or she did well across the board this past year, look to the reading and math skills they will be learning this upcoming school year. Free guides show parent-friendly learning standards for grade school students. Popular guides include the Core Knowledge Sequence: “Content and Skill Guidelines for Kindergarten-Grade 8” and “Grade-by-Grade Learning Guide” by PBS parents.
High school knowledge and skill sets can be found by reviewing your child’s upcoming fall semester class schedule and identifying knowledge and skills within the course content. If you cannot find it online, contact your child’s high school for such information.
Helpful academic resources
Once you know what academic skills to focus on, gather grade-specific resources for those academic skills. For example, multiplication looks different from third grade to fifth. So when you are searching for math materials, make sure the resource includes not only multiplication problems but problems tailored for your child’s grade level. Free grade-level resources, both interactive and print, may be found online at Kids.gov: “EDSITEment!” “Khan Academy,” “KidZone Educational Worksheets,” and many others.
Academic resources are also available to you at your local library. With just a library card, you may check out learning tools for your little ones or feel free to print education resources that you can’t check out. Librarians are available to help you identify books and resources that are appropriate for the grade-level skills you want your child to learn.
Create an academic calendar
Once you have your designated skills and resources, create a realistic schedule that your child can follow to work on various academic activities. To do this, bookmark activities and websites you would like your child to use. Then take a large-print calendar and write in the days and times you want your child to complete each activity. For example, on July 27, you might have your struggling third-grader read and write a book report for When Marian Sang: The True Recital of Marian Anderson. On July 28, have him write an alternate ending to the story. On July 29, have your child get his alternate ending revised and edited by an older relative. On July 30, have him rewrite the ending based on the older relative’s comments. And on July 31, have him read the story and alternate ending aloud to you. No matter what the activities, make sure the calendar is consistent with learning activities that match the skills you want your child to improve or master.
Monitor academic growth
Remember, your child’s learning plan should include you. Just like a teacher continually monitors students’ academics during the school year, you will be responsible for assessing your child’s work during the summer. With that in mind, identify days on the calendar when you plan to check the activities you give your child to complete. Try to check in with your child about every five days. Review worksheets, writings, and other activities for accuracy.
Also designate a person your child can contact for help in between check-in sessions. If you won’t be available during the times your child is working, have him solicit his older sibling or a grandparent for help. These check-ins will motivate your child to complete the work and to get to know your child personally.