Extra: Summer learning - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings Extra: Summer learning


by Jenn Jarvis

WATERLOO (KWWL) -- School is right around the corner, and studies show some students may have trouble getting back into the swing of things.

According to information from the Johns Hopkins University Center for Summer Learning, students lose about 2.6 months of math learning over the summer and teachers spend an average of 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students forget over the summer.

And while teachers say it's best to learn all summer long, it's never too late to transition your child back to a learning environment. Here's some ideas and tips to get you started.

Use Your Environment
Take a cue from your surroundings. If the family is going on a last minute vacation, help your child do research on your destination. This will help teach them research skills and is often a good history or geography lesson. If you're planning to drive, have your child follow the route on an atlas to improve their map reading skills. Or have them keep a journal of the trip to improve writing skills.

Or, if you've already had your vacation, pick an exotic spot and help your child plan a virtual vacation.

If you're staying closer to home, use daily activities as a learning opportunity. Take your child to the store when you are grocery shopping. If you have a coupon for a certain item, challenge your child to figure out how much money you will save. Compare the size of two different items to teach your child weights and measurements. For example, will you save more money if you buy a family size box compared to two regular boxes.

If your kids enjoying being outdoors, turn it into a science lesson. Have your child gather plants or insects and then do research to classify them. Or plant some seeds to teach your child about the life cycle of a plant. Simple outdoor activities can be a great way to catch up on science knowledge.

Beat the Heat
On a hot day, it's important for kids to take a break and cool off. But instead of popping in a movie, try a trip to the library. Many local libraries have activities or craft times scheduled throughout the summer. It's a chance for your kids to socialize, learn, and keep cool! If there are no activities scheduled, pick out a good book. Your local librarian can suggest a book that caters to your child's interests and suits their reading level.

Local museums also provide a cool retreat. Many museums also schedule summer activities for kids. Some museums also have interactive exhibits if your child likes to stay on the go. Museums can help with everything from history lessons to art skills.

You can even stay cool and learn without leaving home. Scout out some kid-friendly Web sites that provide educational games or crafts. PBS provides separate resources for parents and kids. The parent site features an activity search where you can choose the type of activity, the skill you want to work on and even your child's favorite TV character. The children's site has games that teach everything from math to writing skills. PBS Kids Play! does require a subscription, but you can use it for free on a trial basis.

Family Education has an online Back to School guide that is divided by subject and grade level. It includes everything from suggested reading lists to activities to explore the night sky.

The Discovery Channel also has a wealth of educational tools online. If your kids want to watch TV, you can watch clips from the popular Planet Earth series that explores extreme ocean environments and gives you a close up of the rarest animals in the world. They also have online simulations that allow you to learn about natural disasters and you can even create your own earthquake.

Even a family dinner can be a learning experience. National Geographic has recipes for all occasions and some from other parts of the world. Depending on what you cook, it can be a lesson in history or geography, and measuring ingredients will help with math skills. The National Geographic Kids site also includes a variety of activities, from word games to explorer stories and videos.

Fill the Gap
It's always a good idea to check with your child's last teacher to ask about areas where they may need a little boost. Summer is the perfect time to fill any gaps in learning or to improve some areas where your child may struggle. This can be done at home if you have the time to prepare specific acitivities or lessons. But, many tutoring centers provide special summer services aimed at getting your student ready for the fall. And even though school is right around the corner, even a few sessions can get your child back into the classroom mentality.

Online Reporter: Jenn Jarvis

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