Make summer a time for learning, too

Published: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.

Several parents have called seeking information on how to best help their children improve on their reading and math during the summer months.

Most of the calls are from parents who have elementary children. In most cases, these children have been retained or are facing retention sometime during the summer.

The task of improving a child's performance in reading and math during the summer months is not an impossible task, but it does require commitment from parents or other adults in the home who are willing to guide and teach the child.

The key to having success during the upcoming school year is to be consistent with a routine. Children should not be allowed to waste time and not be engaged in some academics during the summer. There should be a constant reinforcement in the review of math skills and reading exercises, particularly with elementary children.

According to the experts, every home that has small children should turn some of their living space into mini-classroom for their child to study and learn new things.

Since we are at the beginning of the summer, this is the right time to explore all sorts of reading materials for children. For preschool-age children, parents could be busy preparing their child to learn their letters, numbers, colors, shapes and their birth date and home address, etc.

It is also recommended that children should be able to write their name and form letters on paper. These children are at the right age where their minds can absorb a lot of information and they should be taught these skills early.

For children to be successful at the elementary level, it is imperative that children learn to master these skills very early.

I am convinced that spending at least two hours a day with a short review at bedtime will improve a child's performance. I have learned lately that the latest research suggests that when fathers read to their children, particularly boys, they take an interest in reading early in their young life.

It is further proven that parents who read in the house and value reading a lot, such as the newspaper, magazines and books, will have children who will emulate what they see their parents do.

Consequently, they develop a healthy appetite for learning. This is a good habit to have.

In an environment where children can learn without a lot of pressure we can further enhance their chances to catch up on skills missed in the regular school year. A few days ago I was so encouraged by a parent who called and had read one of my articles written last summer about this same time about getting children a jump start in school.

She was excited about having the opportunity to work with her child at home. Her work schedule allowed her to be with her son during the day. She explained to me what her routine would be with her son and that

she was determined to make him a success before entering the third grade.

Her great spirit was touching and inspiring. It gave me a sense of hope for her son to do well. As I reflected on her mission to help her son, I thought to myself, how can we get other parents to have the

same attitude for helping their children?

As I have said many times before, educating a child is a partnership. The schools will do their part, but parents must do their part as well.

As parents, we should open up the world to our young ones by looking for teachable moments outside of the home and the classroom. Going about our everyday lives should be a learning experience for our children. These activities could include riding in the family car and identifying signs and letters, visiting the mall and selecting sizes for clothes, pricing clothes, counting the bases at a softball or baseball game, reading the church program, etc.

All of these examples are learning opportunities for young preschool-age children and beginners. Sometimes, we adults tend to overlook great opportunities for teaching our young.

So, in the eight weeks remaining in our summer, it is encumbered upon all of us to pitch in and get busy mentoring our children. The first day of school, which is Aug. 23, will be here before we can blink.

Enjoy the rest of the summer.

Philoron Wright is assistant to the superintendent of community and schools for Alachua County Public Schools.

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