Bridging the Summer Gap
Updated: Jun 17, 2021
We are almost there. The summer is around the corner! The weather is warmer, the days are longer and there is definitely a feeling of positivity in the air.
After this year and a half, it is safe to say that we are all more than a little burnt out. Most of us want nothing to do with at-home learning ever again. Please note that this post is merely a suggestion and as a family, you may decide that whatever will be, will be and that is totally cool, too!
As an educator, one of the most frequent questions/comments/observations from parents is the following:
Students come into the classroom to start off the new year and as with all years, the teacher does a series of diagnostic assessments to get to know the students' approximate levels of achievement. We do this to get a baseline - an understanding of where, generally, the class is at, so we can plan better. Often, we do this with reading first but it's nice to get a general sense for literacy (reading, writing, oral) and basic mathematics strands. Generally, we report back to parents, perhaps to let them know their reading group/level or send home levelled books with kids. There are always parents who are surprised and react with - "This isn't the right level for my child - last year they finished Grade 2 reading at a (insert higher level than the one assigned here)!".
Before I continue - if you are interested in learning more about reading levels and why you shouldn't stress about them, check out my post on this here.
What many parents fail to realize is the impact an extended break can have on learning. I touched on this briefly on Instagram when Winter Break was nearing. You can read that post here. Extended breaks can be anything longer than a long weekend (Winter Break, Spring Break, week-long vacations from school, Summer Break, etc.). Summer break, of course, is the longest break that students take from school so we can predict that the gaps from a break this long might be the most noticeable.
Now, it's important to note that the impact isn't detrimental, nor is it permanent. Kids will, in most typical circumstances, bounce back, return to their norms and continue to grow in school. Ignoring academics for 8 weeks will not stunt their ability to learn in the grand scheme of things. Some may take longer than others to get back into the groove, but overall, it will not be the reason why they fail to succeed. I want to shout this LOUD and CLEAR for the people in the back!!
You want to have a carefree, vacation-filled, low stress summer? You do you, boo.
The disclaimer for you is this - prepare for some academic gaps upon the return to school. Be aware of the possibility that when your children go back to school, they might not be where they were when they finished. Once they get back into the school routine, they should, within a reasonable time frame, get back to where they were and continue thriving in their school environment.
Tips to Bridge the Gap
If you are less comfortable with the idea of 8 weeks without academic instruction, there are ways that you can work to bridge the gap so that the skills don't slide quite so far. At the very least, you should hope to maintain the status quo. There is no need to put any pressure on new skills or advancing learning, but focus on bridging the gap between school years to maintain the skills and hard work that your child put into the school year.
Read daily. This is such an easy way to keep that literacy brain active. It doesn't matter what is read, who reads it, how long it's read for - simply engage with a form of text every single day. This could be...
- reading a story before bed (parent-read, child-read, sibling-read, zoom-grandparent read, listen to audiobook, etc.)
- reading together with a friend or relative using technology (check out the Caribu app or the Together app - they are GREAT)
- reading a recipe and making the dish
- reading magazines, posters, signs, flyers, instructions, etc.
- put an audiobook on for car rides
Build learning into fun, pressure-free activities. The best type of learning is the type that happens when kids don't realize they're doing it! Instead of having your child complete a writing "task", have them help you write a grocery list, birthday card or a letter to a friend! Use the things around you to make meaningful learning opportunities without re-inventing the wheel.
- track the weather and make a chart/graph to display findings (extend by researching previous years to see how this year compares!)
- gardening/planting (science, math, and literacy if you add in an observation journal!)
- design a game (make the board and pieces, write the rules, create a marketing ad/poster)
- arts and crafts
- animals and nature (study local flora and fauna, go on hikes, visit farms, get outside!)
Keep it short and sweet. If you are going to include more formal learning in your days, remember to keep it quick and easy. Light and fun! Even 10 minutes a day or even a few days in a week, is enough to reap the benefits. Anything is better than nothing! We're looking to keep that mind active and the skills fresh.
Use choice to your advantage. Kids love to feel empowered and the easiest way to do that is by offering choice (within your boundaries). Let them guide the learning and make choices about their engagement. Check out my blog post on using choice here . Not sure how to offer choices to your kids? Here is a quick guide. Choose one or two ways and give two options (max 3.. more can be overwhelming). Here are some simple ways you can offer choice:
Who: By yourself or with help?
When: Before lunch or after lunch?
Where: On the couch or at the table?
What: Write a letter or a birthday card?
How: With crayon or marker?
Whatever you end up deciding for summer, know that even the smallest effort can have a great reward. If you need help planning some daily activities - please reach out for support!
Click here to book your 15 minute free phone call with me today.
Happy Summer Learning!