School's out, but you don't want that to mean the learning is off. And while no one really wants to bring school to the picnic, there are some easy ways to make sure that your soon-to-be-first grader remembers his A-Z's and sight words all summer long.
It's a refrain you hear from the time your baby is an infant: Take 'em to the library. And really, it's true. The library offers scores of books to borrow...for free. "This is still the best deal in town -- free books to borrow, fun summer activities for children, and a reward-based summer reading program matched to your child's reading level. Don't underestimate the value of the public library," says Dr. Jane Baily, Dean of the School of Education at Post University in Waterbury, Connecticut.
Believe it or not, reading isn't all about, well, reading. Part of it is understanding contextually what's going on and that's something comes with experience. "Provide something new for your child to experience each day. Maybe the experience is simply a walk in the park turning over leaves to find a new bug or hunt for a special rock. It might be catching lightening bugs at night or playing a new card came together as a family," says Baily.
Think this has nothing to do with reading? Thank again. "Each new experience stores important brain information that gets unlocked when reading about a similar experience. Children with many stored learning experiences have an easier time learning vocabulary and have higher reading scores," says Baily.
Once you've experienced something, it's the perfect time to read about it too. "If you made a trip to the beach, head to the library and look for some beach books. If you made a trip to a museum, bring home a souvenir museum book. If you found a great new rock, look up some information about rocks online. This will provide extending information for your child to learn more from the experience," says Baily.
Cooking with kids is a rewarding experience for both of you. It's also a great opportunity to reinforce reading and math skills. "Have your child take out a few children's cookbooks from the library. Help your child write (or draw!) a grocery list with the items needed for the recipe-of-the-week. Head to the store and help your child find the ingredients on his/her list. When you do the cooking, have your child read the recipe out loud as he/she follows it," says Baily.
One more thing: Have your kids write their experience at their level. "Each evening, have your child write three or four 'Summer Words' from the day's new experience. Each word can be written on an index card with a child's illustration of the word. Put up a giant bulletin board or simply tape a large sheet of paper to the wall and then pin or tape the new words to the background. Before bedtime, review the words and play with grouping them in fun ways," says Baily.
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