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Put Down that Workbook, Summer Learning Should Not Be Torture

by | Jun 22, 2017 | Children, Education, Family, Huffington Post, Parenting, Students, Summer Activities | 0 comments

Put Down that Workbook, Summer Learning Should Not Be Torture

I see you in Walmart or Borders buying that summer workbook for your kids, and I know that you have the best intentions. I have had the same thoughts myself. Nothing is more infuriating than coming home from a long day of work to see teenagers sitting on the couch in a messy house doing nothing or asking your kid a question they should know only to realize that they have forgotten how to add, subtract, or count change.

summer learning, learning, no worksheets, fun, learnWe all have had it drilled into our heads at this point that kids lose up to two months or more of skills over the summer if they don’t practice them. So we buy the workbook that will sit on the shelf collecting dust until we drag it out and force our kids to complete problems while they whine and complain. But summer learning should not be torture. In fact, it should be just the opposite, a time to try something new. Here are five ideas to try with your kids over the summer that will teach them valuable skills and help them to start the school year more prepared:

  1. Build Background Knowledge

Background knowledge is the life experience, sometimes called prior knowledge, that a student brings to the classroom. We understand the world based on what we have experienced. As a result, our background knowledge affects how we make sense of and store new information and ideas. The National Research Council states definitively that all learning involves a transfer from past experiences and prior knowledge.  Thus, any new information that we learn is connected to old information that we already know.

Students without adequate background knowledge on a topic often experience a “disconnect” where it appears that they are paying attention and reading fluently – they may even be able to answer some questions – but they do not comprehend, and the full meaning of new information eludes them. Knowledge only becomes usable when we understand its relevance and can connect it to things that we already understand. For this reason, students with a wide variety of experiences and background knowledge are often more capable of going beyond the information that is given to engage in critical thinking skills.

Summer is a great time to have the experiences that build background knowledge. So, visit a state park or battlefield and go on a hike. Tour a science, history, or art museum. Go on a road trip. Visit historic landmarks. Not only will this be great family fun, it will lead to deeper learning during the school year.

  1. Explore Interests

Often your child will have an interest that can not adequately be explored within the school day. For example, they may really enjoy art or music but only get one hour of these classes per week. Or maybe they would enjoy acting, but no drama class is offered at their school. Summer is a great time to explore interests and connect academics to real world skills. Kids who enjoy the arts can try an art, theater, creative writing or music camp. A child who likes math, science, and building things can connect and extend these skills through an engineering camp or workshop. A child who wants to participate in sports can enroll in a camp that focuses on a particular sport or spending time outdoors. This will help to build background knowledge, tie what is being learned in the classroom to real world skills, and make learning relevant.

  1. Free Unstructured Time

As adults, most of our fondest memories of childhood come from unstructured free time. We remember long summer days filled with riding bikes around the neighborhood with friends, playing school or dress-up, building forts, or playing in the sprinkler.  But playtime is in short supply for kids these days and a lack of free play can have serious consequences according to Dr. Peter Gray, Professor of Psychology at Boston College. Having unstructured time is important to children’s emotional development and regulation and their ability to make decisions and solve problems. Unstructured play can also help children to develop the skills that allow them to get along with others and make friends. But probably most importantly, free play is a source of happiness and a way for children to explore their own interests. So, make sure to balance out planned activities with plenty of opportunities for free time.

  1. Differentiate and Extend Learning

Many children are not able to get what they need during the school year, especially those children that have special and unique learning needs. Parents can seek out more challenging programs and learning experiences for gifted students or find remedial or corrective programs for struggling learners. It is also a great time to think about preparing for the future. Often high school students must find time outside of school to prepare for the SAT or ACT and complete college applications or essays, and summer is a great time to get started on this.

In addition, studies prove that all students lose about two and a half months of math skills every summer. So, all kids should practice math, but don’t think that this means math worksheets. Assigning worksheets without monitoring or guidance has been proven to be largely ineffective. Instead math should be integrated into games, stories, and everyday activities.

  1. Acquire Work Experience and Learn Practical Skills

For older students, summer is a great time to acquire real-world skills through work experience or obtaining an internship in an area of interest. Work teaches students responsibility, time-management skills, and can help teens and young adults apply what they are learning in school. Having a job can also present the opportunity to teach related life skills like opening a bank account, managing money, writing a check, and prioritizing time.

In fact, summer is a great time for children of all ages to learn and practice practical life skills. Have kids help with chores around the house, let children who are old enough assist with meal preparation, and involve kids with errands like trips to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Studies have linked professional success to having chores as a child. And it might just make your life a lot easier to have a little help around the house!

Summer learning does not have to be a huge hassle for parents, and it shouldn’t be something that kids dread. Many everyday activities provide the opportunity to practice and extend what is learned in school. This summer, embrace the freedom that summer offers to learn in ways that are not available to kids during the rigid structure of the school year.

-Nina Parrish, M.Ed.
Owner | Parrish Learning Zone, LLC

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                                       ~Nina

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Nina Parrish, M. Ed.

Co-Owner and Director of Education

Proud mom of two adorable girls. Teacher who has developed an education business that started at a kitchen table and has grown into a thriving small business... Click here to Learn more about Nina.

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Pam Cantrell Burton
Pam Cantrell Burton
2020-10-14T16:15:51+0000
Parrish Learning Zone helped my daughter with on-line SAT and college essay preparation. She not only scored in the top 90 percentile on the SAT after working with Lauren Cannavo, she especially benefited from the tutoring she received for her admission essays. My daughter was accepted at Notre Dame, UVA, William and Mary, and received scholarships to George Washington University and the University of Alabama. She was initially deferred at the University of Chicago and waitlisted at University of Michigan and Emory University. She eventually chose not to remain on the waitlists and committed to UVA.Lauren also advised our daughter regarding her submission of a 20 page essay on community service for DECA, a high school business club. Our daughter, along with her partner, won second place in her category at the DECA state competitions in 2019 and 2020, and received second place at the DECA international competition in 2019.Lauren was not only a top-notch professional, she really cared about our daughter and was so pleased about her accomplishments. We are so very grateful to her and Parrish Learning Zone.
Marijayne Kruus
Marijayne Kruus
2020-05-11T21:51:37+0000
My daughter has a math learning disability and hated math. We started working with Nina Parrish and stuck with it for several months. Her grades have improved, but more importantly, so has her self confidence. She now loves going to work on math and will even work on it at home by herself. We are grateful for Parrish Learning Zone!
Laura Ellis
Laura Ellis
2018-12-14T14:36:43+0000
Mr. Chaves is an extremely gifted chemistry teacher. It's such a difficult subject--my son was drowning by the time we found PLZ. This was truly a last ditch effort on our part. Mr. Chaves was able to turn that ship around after only 4 lessons and my son passed the SOL! He was able to distill difficult concepts in a way that made them comprehensible and he was patient and kind and gave my son the confidence to succeed. His actual eacher expressed surprise and made a point of telling him he didn't know how he did it but he was impressed. It takes a gifted teacher to get results like that.I only wish we'd found PLZ and Mr. Chaves in the beginning of the school year.
Wendy Zelazny
Wendy Zelazny
2018-06-08T02:05:15+0000
Highly Recommend
Anne Kater Reeves
Anne Kater Reeves
2018-06-07T22:46:05+0000
I highly recommend Parrish Learning Zone. My daughter was able to achieve the SAT score she was aiming for with the help of her Math (Mr. James Slane) and English (Mrs. Lauren Cannavo) tutors. Not only did they help her with practice tests but they also boosted her confidence in taking the SAT. The owners (Nina and Jay) were always prompt in answering my emails. They are very accommodating and worked around my daughter’s schedule (thank you Shiela for all your help in finding available dates for my daughter to meet with her tutors). Thank you Parrish Learning Zone for helping my daughter achieve her goal!
Beth Yankovich
Beth Yankovich
2018-03-23T20:29:18+0000
I can't say enough good things about Parrish Learning Zone. My son has historically suffered from low reading comprehension. I felt he needed a little extra help so I contacted Parrish Learning Zone. The owners at Parrish matched my son with the perfect tutor for him, they developed a rapport almost immediately. He is now in 8th grade and doing well in all his classes. My son is very active in school sports and the staff at Parrish are always very accommodating. They always reschedule with no problems. My son even likes to go early to chat with Sheila.
Beth Kent
Beth Kent
2017-11-08T18:59:11+0000
Awesome! Very structured and student focused - they identified the areas of weakness and turned those into areas of strength in a very short amount of time. I loved the communication from the tutor and the company. I received a specific report of my child's tutoring session including improvements and areas that needed continued work. I received reminders of upcoming tutor sessions - which I needed!! I felt the individual attention and service was worth every penny AND found the prices to be much more reasonable that other tutors in the area. I would HIGHLY recommend Parrish Learning Zone to any parent that needs to find highly competent tutoring help for their child. Parrish is simply the best!
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
Michele Hiltbrunner Freemyers
2017-03-14T15:53:50+0000
An excellent place to take your kids for any tutoring needs! PLZ is a very personalized and hands on service! Both of my teenage boys have been through here for various reasons and I know we will continue to make use of them!
Tammy Elms Mosco
Tammy Elms Mosco
2016-06-02T12:20:59+0000
SAT Prep Course with Parish Learning is definitely a worthwhile invest !!...My son's scores improved over 200 plus points!!
Janice Boles
Janice Boles
2014-12-02T22:34:32+0000
I am extremely thankful to Parrish Learning Zone. I have a son that is a freshman in college majoring in mechanical engineering. I am so glad that we found out about the Parrish Learning Zone because they were very caring and really worked hard around my sons high school football schedule to ensure that he received all of the needed instruction in order to do well on the SAT testing. It was a great investment for his future. I believe this experience prepared my son for the transition to college life. He was able to attend a top engineering college and to play football there. My daughter is a senior in high school now and was admitted into two of the top ranked public schools in Virginia. She will be a freshman at one of these schools next year. She also was enrolled in the Parrish Learning Zone for preparation for the SAT. I am again thankful to the Parrish Learning Zone and feel that this was a great long term investment into their futures. I would strongly recommend the Parrish Learning Zone to anyone looking for an environment that offers a caring and knowledgeable approach to educating students. They are the best.
Angela Jackson
Angela Jackson
2014-05-15T00:39:39+0000
Andrew Powers
Andrew Powers
2014-02-09T12:32:29+0000

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