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Jun 04, 2013

It’s summer…go crazy and get lazy! OK, slow your roll there, Paris.

Last week, we shared an article called 3 Ways to Keep Kids Sharp This Summer and we learned that summer is NOT the time for kids to get lazy. We’re blessed to know some great teachers with fantastic experience and we’re working on a tight timeline before summer starts, so we’re back with more!   

I spoke to Denise Kubik, an elementary school teacher for over 15 years and super mom to 2 active boys. She encourages parents to take family vacations during the summer, enjoy time together and most importantly, keep education as a priority throughout the summer.  

Denise warns, "Children develop their educational foundation, confidence and study habits during their elementary school years, so don't let yours become a victim of summer vacation!" It’s important to keep their minds sharp during the summer so they won’t struggle to remember what they learned this year.  

Before you put away those backpacks and pencils, ask yourself, “Are my kids fully prepared for the year ahead?” 

She shares four tips you can use this summer to get your children ready for back-to-school.  

1. Reading

Denise advises, "Keeping up on academic skills is very important and kids must read, read, read over the summer!" Kids who read for pleasure are among the group with the highest ACT and SAT scores. Teach your kids early on what "fun" reading can be. It doesn't matter if they're reading textbooks on science or science fiction - the point is, just get them reading!  

Instilling a passion for reading is important for more than your kids’ elementary academic “career.” In a May 2012 article, Forbes claimed, If You Want to Succeed in Business, Read More Novels. The article points to "studies that show reading fiction actually increases people's emotional intelligence: their accurate awareness of themselves and others, and their ability to create positive relationships with others based on managing their own reactions." In other words, when we read about fictional characters, we become better at understanding real people and real situations.  

Denise recommends getting your child a library card, spending time with reading clubs and/or downloading books from the internet. The Scholastic Summer Challenge is a free reading program dedicated to stopping the “Summer Slide” and encouraging kids to read every day this summer. 

2.  Writing

Denise recommends buying a journal for your child so they can document the summer through their eyes. They can journal about their favorite interests, hobbies, activities, books, days, people – the family summer vacation is a great time to improve their writing skills.  

For more on the benefits of journaling for your kids, I recently wrote an article called 5 Ways to Avoid ‘Are We There Yet? that includes suggestions on making a road trip educational and engaging for the whole family.

3.  Arithmetic 

Denise recommends familiarizing yourself with your child’s level of learning. “It's important to know what math skills your child should learn in his or her current grade,” she advises, “You can access the learning standards for your child's grade on the website for your state department of education or ask your child's teacher to outline them for you.” If you know what your child should be learning, it will be easier to complement those skills with activities at home.

You can do that by involving them in everyday activities such as figuring out the cost of four cans of tuna while shopping in the grocery store, asking how long it will take to travel to your destination based on your speed, asking how long it will take to save their allowance to afford a much-desired item at the toy store. Click here for 10 additional suggestions on helping your kids do well in math.

4. Your Homework

In addition to keeping up their skills, Denise suggests that parents take advantage of what their school has to offer. Stay in touch with the school and know when school activities will take place over the summer. Take advantage of “meet the teacher” events and parent orientations. In addition, write the school and find out about next year's curriculum - understanding and knowing next year's expectations will help you be the best advocate for your child and set clear expectations for the year to come.

Now it’s your turn! Tell us some of the ways you keep your kids learning during the summer. What suggestions do you have for other parents?

Tonia Degner

Tonia has been a leader in the retail and tech industries for 20+ years with a focus on driving vision and growth strategies in large volume business sectors. Her most recent experience includes Director positions at Amazon where she implemented complex company-wide enhancements, led the launch of innovative products, and created disruptive strategies. She joined freshbenies as Chief Strategy Officer because of her passion to provide practical tools that simplify the American healthcare experience.

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