Summer is a great time for relaxing and recharging your batteries, but it is also a time that students can lose skills that they have gained throughout the year. Many research studies have shown that students lose two to three months of reading and math over the summer. In order to continue our high academic rigor throughout the year, we want to assure that our students keep a good portion of their recently learned skills. That is why we provide summer homework. We want our students to be ready to learn when they walk back in on the first day of school.
Coupled with that, it is important for our students to have “executive functioning skills” to be successful in school and life. You may have heard about this in articles recently as it seems to be the hot topic. Executive function skills, while they sound very complicated, are actually quite simple. Time management, planning out a project, organizing materials, and staying focused on a project are the most important executive function skills that a student needs. These, however, do not just magically appear for most students. These skills have to be practiced and developed just as any subject would need to be.
Use the summer homework as a time to allow your child to develop their executive function skills while they keep their skills sharp. Follow these steps to having a productive, successful, and stress-free summer.
1. Sit down with your child and look at what needs to be accomplished over the summer.
2. Print out a calendar of the summer months and together write in any trips, activities, or camps on the calendar in one color.
3. In a different color ask your child to write in times that they can devote to summer work.
4. Ask them to set a time each day for reading. When do they enjoy reading the most? In the morning, after lunch, before bed?
5. Keep the calendar in a prominent place and ask your child to check the calendar each morning. If it is a day for summer work, then ask them to plan the time for the work.
6. If they complete their plan, then congratulate them and have them either check off the calendar square as complete, color it in, or decorate it – they decide. Celebrate the success.
7. On the times that the plan is not followed, ask your child to reschedule the time and set a revised plan in place.
If you come across one of those days that your child complains about the work or the time spent, remind them that it is their plan. Ask them if they need to revise their plan so that they will feel more comfortable about it. Help them see how good it feels to accomplish their own plan. The more our children practice all of these skills the better off they will be!