By Guest Blogger, Jennie Roberts
The past few months have brought mountains of worries and obstacles that are certainly unprecedented in our time. At the forefront of many parents’ minds is the elusive answer to the question: How will our children’s learning be impacted? Though I certainly don’t have all of the answers, I’d like to speak to the next few months and provide some simple ways to keep your children learning this summer. First and foremost, every parent and caretaker who was thrown into the role of classroom teacher, deserves a medal of honor and a mimosa. As an educator, I can’t begin to imagine what it would be like to simply wake up one morning and be told that I’d be reporting for duty as an electrician, nurse, or accountant. I know that many of you agonized over the confusing curriculum and assignments, but you did it. Though I can’t imagine it was easy or always pretty, you showed up for your children when the rest of the world seemed to lose its footing. Now you are facing the daunting task of avoiding the “summer slide”, and allow me to help. There are learning areas you can focus on this summer, and here they are:
For rising K-2 students
Following 2 Step Directions
Math Facts (Addition and Subtraction)
By regularly playing word games with your child, you are actually developing their Phonological Awareness, which is a crucial foundational language skill. This is entirely auditory, so don’t worry, no workbooks necessary. You will simply draw your child’s attention to the sounds in words by asking them to identify: beginning sounds, ending sounds, and rhyming words. This may come as a surprise to those of us that used this skill to no end in the 80’s, but the game of Pig Latin is actually a wonderful way to support children’s phonological development. It requires them to manipulate the sounds in words, which again, is a building block for reading and writing success. Ow-hay bout-ay at-thay?
Following 2 step directions
As simple as it seems, being intentional about giving your child multistep directions in a comfortable setting will greatly support their transition to the classroom in the fall. Be explicit and clear with your directions and try and provide visuals to support when you can. For example, “Rowen, I’d like you to push in your chair, and then walk your bowl to the sink,’ and I’ll hold up one finger as I orally say each direction. Requiring your child to repeat the directions back to you will improve their success.
Did you know that listening to books is incredibly beneficial to students? It not only models fluent and expressive reading, but it also provides them the opportunity to develop their listening comprehension. There are many platforms to use for this, but I like the following:
Don’t fret, I’m certainly not suggesting you take up Pre-Calc this summer to provide your student with math instruction, but you can provide them with regular opportunities to learn and memorize their basic math facts. For students in rising K, 1, and 2, regular practice with addition, subtraction, and mixed facts will greatly support their overall math development.
Here are a few great websites to support:
For rising 3-5 students
Applying comprehension to daily activities
Executive Functioning Skills
Math Facts (Mixed addition and subtraction, multiplication, division)
One of the prominent deficits I see in students in grades 3-5 is a limited vocabulary. Draw your children’s attention to the meaning of words on a regular basis. Use higher level vocabulary with them, and then encourage them to do the same.
Applying comprehension to daily activities
A simple way to support your child’s reading comprehension is by asking them to make sense of what they are reading, watching, or listening to. Here are a few prompts:
“Can you tell me the main idea of the video game you just played?”
“Let’s summarize our day together.”
“What do you think the main purpose of that song was?”
Executive Functioning Skills
Most students require some level of support with their executive functioning skills. This means their ability to self-regulate, plan, organize, execute tasks, and juggle multiple areas at a time. As part of your summer routine, give your child the space and tools to develop an organizational routine. Set them up with a weekly and monthly calendar that allows them to visually see upcoming events and plan ahead.
I like this set from Amazon; Additionally, encourage them to make to-do lists. My momma told me that every day of the pandemic, she commited to completing 10 tasks. They could be simple or complex, but what mattered was that she did them. Ask your child to write a brief to-do list that includes 4-6 activities that they will complete for the day. Activities will vary but could look something like:
– walk the dog
– spend 15 minutes listening to Audible
– load the dishwasher
– help mom prepare a snack
– have a 30 minute quiet time after lunch
– ride my bike
Other suggestions: try Cozi app as it allows us to create to-do lists that can be electronically marked off and shared with family members.
Audible (Elementary Listeners)
No need to create the wheel when it comes to ways to support your student’s mastery of math facts; you are welcome to use good old fashioned flash cards, but the provided websites do the work for you. (see previous post in K-2 section for links to math programs)
For Middle School Students
Vocabulary Development (see previous post)
Executive functioning skills “
Audible (tween listeners)
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to identify that middle schoolers often need support regulating their emotions.By giving your middle schooler opportunities to learn resilience, perseverance, and empathy this summer, you are equipping them with valuable tools for the school year.
Remember, your child’s next teacher will undoubtedly be a superhero who has already begun gearing up for the fall. He or she will be working endlessly to ensure that each child on their roster masters all of the skills necessary for the next grade. So take a deep breath, pour yourself a glass of bubbly, and know that some of the most important skills in life aren’t always taught in a classroom.
Hi! I’m Jennie. I’m the mom to a wild 1 year old boy named Rowen Luke, and when I’m not chasing him, education is my passion! I began my career teaching second and third grades (teaching in both public and private schools) and have over 10 years of classroom experience. I have an M. Ed as a Reading Specialist, and I’m a certified Orton-Gillingham instructor and Dyslexia Practitioner. I currently teach Literacy at the collegiate level and run a successful tutoring business called Open Mind Literacy, Inc., that has served hundreds of students in grades K-12 in the greater Charlotte area. Additionally, I recently launched Carolina Orton-Gillingham to share resources and products that support structured literacy. I’m also on the board of the North Carolina branch of the International Dyslexia Association, as I’m passionate about advocating for students with learning differences such as dyslexia. Thank you for getting to know me!