Boosting Academics in the Summer

Researchers estimate that the average students loses about a full month of learning during summer break. The numbers are significantly higher for lower income families. But that doesn’t have to be the case.

Summer reading contests are a great way to keep young minds engaged. They give kids tangible goals and rewards for their hard work. Check out Barnes & Noble,Scholastic, Pizza Hut, and your local library. Keep tracking sheets all together in a folder, and show your kids how to track their reading for each contest.

For middle and high schoolers, check out the College Board’s 101 Great Books Recommended for College-Bound Readers. For this age group, I also highly recommend the book Do Hard Things, by teen twins Alex and Brett Harris.

Do a summer unit study. What topics are really fascinating to your kid? Take a trip to the library, and check out a stack of books on the subject. Find hands-on activities they can do related to the topic (just Google “activities for [your topic]” “[your topic] unit study”), and contact an expert in the field to arrange an interview. When it’s all done, have your child put together a PowerPoint or create a small book about what they’ve learned, and share it with the family.

To encourage writing, have your kids pick out a journal that appeals to their sense of style (or they can make one with a composition book, fabric or decorative paper, and some craft supplies). Ask them to do Sensory Writing in their journal for 10 minutes everyday. For this exercise, your child would find a new place each day (outside, a particular room in the house, maybe an interesting place on vacation) and pay attention to all of their senses. Then for 10 minutes, they would write everything their senses experience — what they see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

With the wide use of email, texting, and Facebook, the art of good, old-fashioned letter writing is all but lost. It’s sad because who doesn’t LOVE to get a letter? Encourage your kids to write to someone once a week. They might even find some fun replies in their own mailbox.

Middle and high schoolers can start a blog about their favorite topic, comment on blogs that interest them, or write an article for a local newspaper or magazine. They could even spend the summer interviewing family members and writing a family memoir.

Get ahead in math this summer. Maybe your kids could master their times tables. Head over to Barnes & Noble and find some good math workbooks. Middle and high schoolers can check out Mr. D Math. He offer online courses that could help kids either catch up or jump ahead.

Visit us tomorrow. We’re going to talk about investing the summer months in our kids interests and talents.

Jenni Stahlmann

Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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Jenni Stahlmann is the mom of six kids (ages 4 to 18) with #7 due in August and one on the autism spectrum. She and her husband Matthew homeschool the whole brood. Jenni has been a journalist for more than 20 years, having covered government, business and family issues for a wide range of magazines and newspapers. Currently, she and Jody co-host a weekly syndicated radio show, write a weekly newspaper column and freelance articles and speak at churches, political groups and homeschool conventions about parenting on purpose.

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