Ahhh, summer — the perfect season for kids to relax and take a break from all things school-related. Summer vacation is a time when parents don’t bother enforcing limits on screen time or bedtime. The only bad thing about summer is that it eventually comes to an end; and when it does, kids are expected to return to being students.
The first few weeks of school are a shock to everyone’s schedule, but they are especially challenging for kids who have grown used to a relaxed schedule, days of quiet isolation, or those who have succumbed to the “summer slide.” During the summer months, kids quickly forget not only the lessons, but also the skills they use regularly at school. Transitioning back to school is difficult for any child, but there will be additional obstacles this year for anyone who participated in virtual school or completed a PCS move. Parents can help prepare their kids for a new school year by starting these summer habits.
Summer workbooks: The easiest way to help kids retain the knowledge they acquired during the school year is for them to keep practicing those lessons throughout the summer. No matter the grade your child is entering, there are workbooks designed to keep their skills sharp during the summer. Some workbooks focus on a particular subject, like cursive handwriting or pre-algebra. Other companies produce workbooks to keep kids familiar with general grade-level topics including reading, writing and math. Get a workbook for your child’s grade early in the summer. Then help them create the habit of spending around 20 minutes with it each morning. You’ll prevent the “summer slide” and have the opportunity to see what subjects are easier or more difficult for your child.
Reading time: When you were younger, did you have a required reading list over the summer, or book report projects? Many schools do not send home required reading during the summer months, but that doesn’t mean your child should stop reading! Encourage reading throughout the summer with a list of recommended titles appropriate for your child’s age and interests. Check out your local library’s summer reading program. The children’s section of the library may offer prizes or coupons for kids who complete their reading time. Help your child start the habit of reading every evening before bed or reading for 20 minutes before doing screen time.
Educational apps: If your child used certain apps during the school year, see if they can continue to log into them during the summer months. Sometimes the app license is paid through the school, and the child won’t be able to log in at home. But many educational apps are free or have at-home subscription options. These can provide instruction during the hot days of summer. Ask your child what games or websites they were allowed to sign into during school hours and see if they can benefit from those same apps during vacation. If will help keep their skills fresh.
In-person Interaction: We all were a little more isolated than usual last year. Whether your child did virtual learning or in-person instruction, social distancing caused a shift in many behaviors. As they prepare to return to school this year, help them adjust by practicing some of the skills they will need in the classroom. Take them to the playground so they can learn to play safely with other kids. Sign up for a class or summer camp so they can adjust to the rules of being in a classroom and talking in a group discussion that isn’t happening over Zoom. The more practice they get, the less awkward it will be going back to school.
Earlier bedtimes: Summer is a glorious time to stay up late and enjoy lazy mornings! But there’s a good chance your summer schedule doesn’t match up to the same hours as the school year. A month before school begins again, start a gradual shift back to your household school-night schedule. If your child is staying up two hours later or getting up one hour later, then move their bedtime a few minutes earlier each night. That way, when it’s the first day of school, they will already be well rested and ready to go.
We all want our children to have fun and form good memories during the summer. But we also want them to be prepared for a new school year, fully equipped to do their best. With these simple summer habits, you can help your child have a smooth transition into this next school year.