Summer Learning

July 19, 2008 by  
Filed under Ask Dr. Vicki, Education

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Dear Dr. Vicki,

My friends say they need to keep their kids doing worksheets over the summer so they start the new school year on a good foot. My son cries and yells through the whole thing. He could really use the review but is it worth the torment? We all have to do things in life we don’t want to do, but is this one of them? What is the best thing a parent can do to prepare their child for the upcoming school year? What should summer be about for our kids and ourselves??

Dr. Vicki’s response:

Great questions! The fact that you are asking them is absolutely wonderful.

I think that learning should be an on-going process all year long. I guess for me it’s a matter of what shape and form that learning takes. Many, many children equate worksheets with school, and believe that they are ‘off’ over the summer. For some children, this works. Particularly since the first few weeks of school tend to be review at the younger grades. Other children need to keep up their skills. If they love it; great. If they don’t, then what to do?

I totally agree that children need to learn to do things even if they don’t like to do them. I just want to be careful that teaching this point doesn’t become counter-productive to the (academic) skills you really want to teach. There needs to be a fine line between keeping up the math skills, and contributing to a severe hatred of school work.

I think that all children should have some time each day during the summer to spend on quiet activities, academics and reading. These things should go on all year long. Some children do much better with school work on the computer than on a worksheet. Others do well if they can crawl into their parent’s lap, much like reading, and work on other things.

Here are a few tips:
• Set aside some quiet time for your children, so that any ‘work’ you want them to do is not creating disruption to playing or TV time, etc. This time needs to be spent in a way that you feel is productive.
• Perhaps there can be a choice of what kind of activity/worksheet, etc. that they can pick from on any particular day.
• Any chance that your children can do worksheets together with a friend? That would probably cut down on the verbal protests, and would be an extension of their time together.
• Perhaps if you want to strengthen math skills, a quiz could be given on Mon. If all the problems are correct, then your child does not need to do any more math that week. The next week, the quiz could be on a more difficult operation, or harder problems. If there are mistakes, perhaps for each error, another worksheet needs to be done. (One a day, etc.) That would mean if only 2 mistakes were made, then only two sheets would need to be completed during the week.
• You might want to give the weekends off, since that is how it is with school and with most jobs. So, if the weekend is strictly for playing, then adding a bit of learning to the week might be more palatable. Just like their parents’ jobs.
• If your children have a particular interest, such as bugs, sharks, flowers, etc…there is no reason that math problems can’t be created to incorporate things that are more appealing to them.
• You might also give a treat for a job well-done (and that means honest effort, with little grumbling, not necessarily 100% correct.)
• Loving connections are always in season! And it doesn’t have to be an either/or; it can certainly be both.

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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