As we mentioned in a previous blog entry, research has shown that the summer slide is very real and can be hazardous to your student’s grades, with learning loss costing some students two or more months of math and reading skills.
For many students with learning disabilities, such as ADD/ADHD, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia (Math Learning Disability) or Asperger’s Syndrome, summer can be a good time to catch up in skills and knowledge and minimize any learning loss.
We know that summer is a tough time to convince kids to work on their skills, especially after a tough school year. The sun’s out, the birds are singing, their friends are calling and they might even have a new videogame they really want to finish.
That’s why we came up with these 6 tips we think will make it easier for you to prevent learning loss while still letting your kids enjoy their summer break!
Tip 1: Get your student on board first.
This is the tricky part! It’s tough to convince kids to take on educational activities during their time off, especially if they’ve had a hard time during the year.
Try to approach them when you’re both relaxed, rested and fed. The better their (and your) emotional state, the more likely they are to receive suggestions.
If you don’t want a daily fight, try offering incentives and rewards that are meaningful to them. Extra computer time, a videogame they like, a trip somewhere fun for them. Make sure you follow up every successful activity with plenty of praise.
Tip 2: Figure out what to work on.
The best thing you can do is simply ask their teacher or teachers outright. A quick email or phone call is all it takes to get an idea of where exactly your student needs the most improvement and where they are most at risk for learning loss.
If that’s not an option, for example if the teacher is on vacation, you can sit with your student and figure out, using their experiences and reports, where they most need improvement.
Tip 3: No Overloading Allowed!
It’s the summer, your student has probably had more than their share of pressure during the school year. Overloading them with work may cause them to become resentful or resistant. It’s time to figure out priorities.
Math is always a good place to start, since it’s a cumulative subject. Because concepts in math tend to build on one another, if your student is falling behind it can get harder and harder during the year to catch up.
Reading skills are central to your student’s success, being important to a number of subject areas. In today’s distracted world, it’s very easy to fall behind, which is particularly true for students with dyslexia or students whose reading is below their grade level as they may want to avoid working on their reading.
Tip 4: Think marathon, not sprint.
It’s important to set a reasonable amount of time each day for studying. Schedule too much time too often and your student may feel they’re losing out on their summer and become resentful. Let your student choose what time of the day they want to study.
The more control your student has in designing the learning process, the more cooperation you will get.
If your student has a hard time staying focused, help them schedule shorter periods more frequently, with plenty of breaks!
Tip 5: Make it fun using games!
Summer is no fun if you have your nose stuck in a textbook all day. Luckily, there are plenty of free websites out there that have some fun Math and English games that can help your student.
One addictive site, Free Rice, is great for building vocabulary, practicing pre-algebra and multiplication, and can help with SAT prep. It also donates 10 grains of rice to feed the hungry for every right answer you provide.
Sheppard Software is another site that is worth a look. While many of it’s games are designed for students in lower grades, some of them target middle and high school as well.
If you don’t like any of these, you’re still in luck. Today, there are games for almost any subject and for every student level. Just Google your student’s subject and grade level and explore!
Tip 6: When in doubt, call in the experts
Online tutoring services, such as our program, are becoming increasingly popular since they’ll let you and your student connect one-on-one with a tutor at your convenience and from home (avoiding long, hot car trips).
When deciding on who to call, there are some factors to consider. The Learning Disability Association of the US recommends tutoring solutions that involve US Teachers (since they know the curriculum at certain grade levels and know how to teach) and are experienced with your student’s particular needs.
So enjoy this summer and hopefully you’ll be able to avoid the summer slide!