Summer: A Time for Authentic Learning
Summer is here! These lazy days bring a sense of calm and a much needed respite for students and their parents. For some, the break also brings a certain level of learning loss referred to as the dreaded “summer slide.” To combat this loss the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) partnered with the US Department of Education to promote continuous learning. National Summer Learning Week is July 10th through 14th, 2023. This weeklong celebration brings to light the power of continuous learning with five summer learning themes. The NSLA further provides a wealth of excellent community resources for authentic summer learning experiences.
At home and on vacation, parents can incorporate the five themes of the week in their daily activities. Encouraging Theme One, “Love of Learning and Literacy,” is a great way to start! Take a trip to your local library (Bronxville Public Library) and take advantage of the multitude of summer programs provided. Make time for reading by hosting a family reading challenge. It’s a great way to instill a love of reading and practice those skills learned throughout the year. Incorporate Theme Two, “Amazing Arts,” by visiting local museums and historic sites. Plan a summer craft, enjoy a summer concert or perhaps, sign your child up for music lessons. “There is an increasing body of empirical and experimental studies concerning the wider benefits of musical activity, and research in the sciences associated with music suggests that there are many dimensions of human life—including physical, social, educational, and psychological (cognitive and emotional)—which can be affected positively by successful engagement in music.” Click the link to read an editorial about The Impact of Music on Human Development and Well-Being.
Summer is a great time to participate in Theme Three, “Wonder of Wellness, Health and Sports.” Practicing mindfulness, eating healthy and exercising daily are great habits that kids should adopt at a young age. Stress affects everyone, even kids. Learning to self-soothe and calm themselves down is an essential skill kids need to master to enable them to live a mentally healthy life. Teaching mindfulness (The Power of Mindfulness) is all about breathing and staying in the present moment. Cooking with your child (Teaching Kids to Cook) not only encourages lifelong healthy eating habits, it also brings a host of teachable moments as well as enhancing math, literacy, science and fine motor skills.
Creating a “STEM” activity, Theme Four, is a great way to engage your child with the world around them and the summertime offers a variety of activities. Parents are their child’s first and greatest teacher. Taking a walk in nature and noticing the fallen bark off a tree can turn into a learning experience for a child. Take the bark home, conduct some research, and explore with your child. Depending on the type of tree, you may find out it is a natural process of aging or the tree is damaged. Once your research is done, you can incorporate an art activity and paint the bark. The little things we take for granted everyday can turn into the greatest lessons and inspire more learning. Check out this site for some fun Summer STEM Activities.
Theme Five, “Community and Leadership,” is the final theme of the week. Developing leadership skills in early childhood encourages healthy self-esteem, good communication skills and opens the mind to what is possible for the future. Here is a list of skills kids should master to be successful adults: 7 Leadership Skills Kids Need To Learn. Volunteering with your child in your local community helps create leadership skills and creates memories filled with authentic life lessons and as Robert Ingersoll once said, “We rise by lifting others.” You can find great Volunteer Opportunities for Kids in Westchester here.
Prep Academy Tutors is proud to participate in this amazing week and we are thrilled to provide authentic summer learning experiences for all our students. Please reach out to us if you require additional support to help your child participate in the five themes of the week.
Written by our staff author and teacher, Maryann Moriarty. Maryann has 15 years of teaching experience in New York City and is a contributing author at the Educator’s Room.
Sneak In Summer Learning
Our last blog post was about Summer Learning Loss and how parents can combat it. One way to avoid this setback is to sneak in summer learning. Hiring a tutor is an excellent way to provide structure and support throughout the summer so your child retains what they have learned during the past school year however, there are many easy ways to sneak summer learning into your child’s day-to-day activities throughout July and August.
Sneak In Summer Learning: MATH
As discussed previously, on average, students can lose approximately 2.6 months of math learning over the summer, which can take up to six weeks of re-learning old material to make up for the loss. But math is also one of the most accessible subjects to sneak in summer learning, with opportunities to practice basic skills daily.
Host a Yard Sale:
Your kids will need to analyze what they are selling to set a price, be able to calculate change, and offer percentage or dollar discounts.
Having your kids help in the kitchen teaches them life skills and is an easy way to sneak in math, specifically when it comes to measurements. As your kids go through each recipe step, have them convert a measurement. For instance, if the recipe calls for three tablespoons, ask them how many teaspoons that would be.
Math Games for The Family:
Nothing sneaks in summer learning like family game night! Some of the best games that focus on math are:
Sneak In Summer Learning: SCIENCE
The wonderful thing about science is that even simple hands-on experiments requiring only a few materials can spark an interest in the subject for the upcoming school year.
You can create your own experiments or get inspiration here. This Prep Academy article also has three boredom-busting science experiments that will keep your kids engaged using basic household items you likely already have lying around.
Sneak In Summer Learning: READING/WRITING
Have your child delve into their creative side by making a scrapbook where they journal their summer adventures. Use everything you have on hand – magazine clippings, stickers, markers, and construction paper – the sky is the limit! Have your kids incorporate creative storytelling for a fun way to practice writing that also makes a memory book they can look back on in the fall.
Build up your kids’ home library by hitting local garage sales and having them choose and buy books they would like to read.
Rethink Screen Time:
While you don’t want your kids to be in front of a screen for an entire summer, you can turn television time into reading time by simply turning on the closed captioning when they are watching their favourite shows.
Sneak In Summer Learning: GEOGRAPHY
Latitude/Longitude Part 1:
Whenever your child reads a book, magazine or newspaper article, have them find the latitude and longitude of the location where the focus of the article takes place and find it on a map.
Latitude/Longitude Part 2:
Have your child find their birthday latitude and longitude on a map. Use the month for latitude and day for longitude. If the birthday is October 18, the coordinates could be 10°N, 18°E or 10°S, 18°W. To expand on this, have them find out facts about the area they found.
Google Virtual Tours allows you to visit thirty historic landmarks worldwide, including the Taj Mahal, Great Sphinx of Giza and Stonehenge.
On a final note, summer learning loss is not inevitable. A combination of at-home learning and working with our certified tutors will help your child retain what they’ve already learned and confidently start the school year.
How To Combat Summer Learning Loss
Summer is upon us, which means many children go from a structured school routine to a more
relaxed daily schedule. While downtime in the summer is great, the two-month gap in learning
can cause summer learning loss, also referred to as the summer slide, brain drain, and the
summer setback. This can be frustrating for parents. After watching their child struggle to
master vital skills like writing and math over the course of the school year, summer comes along
and seems to wipe the memory clean. In this post we will cover some tips on how to combat summer learning loss.
It’s the old adage of ‘use it or lose it’ come to life. Without regular practice, new skills and
knowledge fade. What’s even more worrisome is that these dips in learning can be even more
dramatic as kids enter middle school.
One area that is hit particularly hard is math. On average, students can lose approximately 2.6
months of math learning over the summer. These setbacks can take up to six weeks of
re-learning old material to make up for summer learning loss.
How Do You Combat Summer Learning Loss?
July and August are a chance for children to combat learning loss and stay academically
motivated so that, when they return to school in the fall, they’ll be more than prepared.
Bring Play Into Learning
Since math is an area with the most significant summer learning loss, one of the most important
roles you can play in how to combat summer learning loss, is modelling interest in the value of math. Instead of thinking about math as a
chore, connect it to your child’s real-life experiences.
Find something your child is already passionate about, then draw out the mathematical
features. It’s a great way to help your kids see that math touches everything. If they like to draw,
you can find books or videos to teach them the importance of ratios, scaling, and angles. If
they’re interested in sports, use the hockey rink, football field, or soccer pitch to show the
importance of fractions.
Games like Yahtzee, Monopoly, and Sequence utilize basic math skills such as counting, adding,
Hire a Tutor
A tutor can provide structure and support so your child will not only retain what they have
learned throughout the school year but can also improve their knowledge in advance of the
year to come. It’s also an opportunity to help your child overcome personal learning challenges
in a safe environment.
Make Reading An Everyday Activity
The results of a 2004 study suggest that the effect of reading four to five booksis potentially
large enough to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall.
Furthermore, children who reported easy access to books also read more books.
A few things you can do to make books more accessible are:
- Take a trip to your local library and allow your child to choose books of interest to them.
- Bring books on car rides or when you go to the park or beach
- Implement a quiet reading hour once a day
- Create a summer reading challenge
Journaling is an excellent activity for kids to develop as readers, writers, and communicators.
Have them write whatever comes to mind, whatever is bothering them, whatever they’re
curious about, or whatever they want to remember.
The Neverending Story:
This is a fun activity for middle-school children. In a notebook, write the line “Once Upon A
Each family member then adds a short paragraph to the story every day, with the next person
adding on to what was previously written. Not only does this help with writing, but it also helps
to inspire your child’s creativity and nourishes their imagination.
Write down vocabulary words on slips of paper appropriate for your child’s age/grade and have
them choose one word each day. The challenge is for both of you to use that word in
conversation (using the proper context) as many times as you can that day.
Summer learning loss is not inevitable. By incorporating math skills into daily life, reading
regularly, and encouraging your children to write and journal, you are setting them up for a
successful school year ahead.
If you want to explore the possibility of tutoring this summer, contact us to learn more.
How To React To Your Child’s Report Card
How To React To Your Child’s Report Card
The end of the school year is near, which means final report cards will be coming home. This can be stressful for kids, especially if they feel like they haven’t lived up to expectations. How parents react to bad grades on a report card is important as it can affect your child’s future approach to studying and attitude towards learning.
According to parenting expert Alyson Schafer, “When report cards come home, your child knows full well that they are being measured. They will be thinking, “Am I good enough?” Your answers and facial expressions need to convey that they are already everything they need to be, and a report card doesn’t say a wit about them.”
No parent wants to see poor grades on their child’s report card, but if you do, don’t react instantly while your emotions are running high. Poor grades aren’t a measure of your child’s worth or your parenting skills. Once you have had time to calm yourself, use this as an opportunity to communicate with your son/daughter and determine a path for future academic enrichment.
If your child does bring home a report card with unsatisfactory grades, here’s what you can do:
Focus on the Positive
Imagine going to work, and your boss only points out everything you do wrong. It would be defeating and unmotivating, not to mention a very stressful environment. It’s the same for your child. Yes, you want the grades to improve, but your child also needs to know what they are doing right. Starting on a positive note helps them understand that you care about all their accomplishments, not just the areas that need improvement. Involve them in the discussion and ask questions like which grade they are proudest of and why.
Listen To Your Child
Your child can give you good insight as to why they are struggling. Ask open-ended questions about what they think happened. Was the work too difficult? Is the subject being taught too fast for them to keep up? Are they asking questions when problems arise?
Talk To The Teacher
Since this is the last report card of the year, you may ask yourself why bother speaking with the teacher. However, this is the perfect opportunity to learn more about your child’s behaviour, habits, and performance in the classroom, which will ultimately help you develop a plan to improve your child’s academic performance.
Come Up With a Plan
Help your child set realistic and attainable goals for the coming year. Hiring a tutor for the summer months marks a chance for your child to combat learning loss and stay academically motivated so that, when they return to school in the fall, they’ll be more than prepared.
Last but not least, emphasize the importance of always trying their best and focusing on a love of life-long learning, not simply getting straight A’s.
Teaching Kids Problem Solving Skills At Home
As parents and educators, one of the greatest things we can do is provide our children with the skills to
solve problems by themselves. Kids of all ages face issues daily, and teaching them the process to solve
these problems will help them become confident, independent individuals.
If your child is struggling with a problem at home, you can do specific things to help.
Teach Your Child The Sequence To Solve a Problem
- Define the Problem: Defining the problem establishes a goal for what you want to achieve.
- Brainstorm Solutions: Create a list of possible solutions.
- Evaluate and Choose a Solution: The ideal solution will meet the goal, is efficient, and has the fewest
- Implement the Solution: This step is about testing and feedback rather than trying to get it ‘perfect’ the
- Review the Results: Review what worked and what didn’t work.
Other ways you can teach your children problem-solving skills:
Model Problem Solving Behaviour
Problem-solving is often done in steps that can be slow and sometimes tedious. Model patience and
perseverance as well as how to follow a structured method.
Ask For Advice
When you face a problem, ask your kids for advice. This helps them develop problem-solving skills and
learn that everyone encounters challenges.
Learn From The Past
Oftentimes children will have encountered a similar situation previously. Have them think about a
comparable problem they have experienced in the past and how they were able to solve the issue. Teach
them that it’s okay to re-use strategies.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
While the easiest solution would be to give your child the answer, it doesn’t help him develop the skills
he needs to problem solve when you aren’t around. Instead, ask open-ended questions to help him
elaborate on his thoughts and provide a more descriptive response. Open-ended questions typically
begin with words like ‘why’ or ‘how’. A few examples of open-ended questions are:
What do you think would work best in this situation?
Why do you think this solution is the one that will work?
What will you do differently next time?
Emphasize the Process, Not The End Result
When you emphasize the process, it helps your child improve their problem-solving skills through effort
and practice and encourages a growth mindset. It also teaches them that the first solution may not
always be the best, and that’s okay.
What To Do When Your Child is Feeling Unmotivated To Learn
The second half of the school year is when many students often feel unmotivated to learn,
especially this past year with the back-and-forth of online and in-person learning. If your child is
feeling unmotivated, the first thing to do is let them know it’s normal to feel this way sometimes,
and that feeling unmotivated is something they will deal with throughout life. The good news is,
you can change it!
Have Your Kids Visualize Their Goals:
A study done in 2011 at the Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Tech showed the easier a
goal is to see, the closer it seems. For instance, if your child has a goal of reading a certain
number of books before the end of the school year, you can create a poster with the title of each
book that they can cross off when it’s done. If they are striving to get a certain grade in a
subject, create a chart where they can document the results of their exams and projects in that
Change Up Your Environment:
There are some things you can change and some things you can’t – like homework. If you can’t
change your to-do list, change where you get things done. Something as simple as finding a
new place you can study even if it’s just for one session can help your child feel more
motivated. Some ideas include:
- Moving to a new area in your home
- Take your homework outside to a local park or even just to your backyard or balcony
The local library.
Organize Workspace Both At Home and In School
Clutter affects not just your workspace but your mind as well. Our brains actually like order, and
if you are surrounded by clutter it drains your cognitive resources, reducing the ability to focus.
Go through both your at-home workspace and in-school workspace (including lockers) to get rid
of anything you don’t need and organize what is left. This is also a good time to create a
calendar on a device or utilize a planner to keep track of deadlines in each of your child’s
Teach Them To Take Care of Basic Needs
Kids are humans and it’s important that they are taking care of their needs like getting enough
sleep, eating well, staying hydrated, getting physical activity, and socializing. It’s hard to be
motivated to learn if you’re falling asleep in class, or can’t concentrate because you didn’t drink
Consider Getting a Tutor
If your child is unmotivated to learn and homework has become a battle, consider hiring a tutor.
A tutor can turn homework and study into a positive experience by applying lessons in a way
that works with your child’s strengths while also teaching him/her time management and
The Power of Play in Your Child’s Learning
We often think of academics and play as two separate entities but study
after study shows us that play is an integral component in a child’s learning. Play is, in fact, so powerful, it can
be used as an intervention to close achievement gaps between children ages 3 to 6. Learning is
not simply cognitive and academic but is broad, interconnected, and dynamic.
Did you know that play is so important to optimal child development that it has been recognized
by the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights as a right of every child? Play allows
children to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity, and physical,
cognitive, and emotional development. And as children master their world, play helps them to
develop new competencies which lead to enhanced confidence and resiliency. Our tutors often
see this boost in confidence when students grasp concepts that they were struggling with
What Play Can Do:
0 – 3 Years: Play at this age is about responsive social interactions that help children build
healthy brain connections.
3 – 12 Years: At this age, skills and concepts learned at school are deepened through play.
12+: Play helps kids to collaborate and problem-solve.
In addition to play being an integral component in a child’s learning, parents are an integral part of the tutoring process as well. How you reinforce the lessons your children
are learning through real-world practice is just as important as the learning itself. This doesn’t
necessarily mean printing out math sheets or having your kids write essays. A lesson on
fractions can be reinforced by baking cookies together. Playing a game of UNO with your kids
teaches them to strategize and match colours and numbers. What they learn with us, is
strengthened at home with you.
So this Family Day long weekend, don’t feel guilty about taking the time off to play. You’re helping to improve
Activities to Keep Your Kids Learning This Summer
With the onset of summer corresponding with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the proliferation of available vaccines for all age groups, the future is looking bright. Students who’ve spent the school year entirely or mostly at home, learning online, may now finally return to a world that very much resembles the one they enjoyed before the onset of the pandemic.
This is cause for celebration.
At the same time, however, it’s crucial that over the course of the summer our children stay intellectually stimulated and motivated to further their academic growth. The pandemic has had a detrimental effect on their education. The summer marks a chance for our children to combat learning loss and stay academically motivated so that, when they return to school in the fall, they’ll be more than prepared.
Combatting Learning Loss
Without the strict structure that school offers, keeping kids focused this summer amid all the distractions will require alternative pedagogical resources such as online home tutoring or learning pods.
Online home tutoring will always be an excellent resource for parents invested in their kids’ growth and education. There is nothing quite like the bond between tutors and their students to keep students consistently focused and intellectually active during the summer.
Learning pods are another option. Whereas with traditional tutoring a certified teacher works with a pupil one-on-one, with a learning pod, a certified teacher works with a small, in-person group of students. A learning pod offers group-learning environments where students learn alongside peers and develop their social and leadership skills.
One way tutors can offer educational support to your kids this summer is by getting them involved in learning activities tailored specially to their level and unique learning styles.
Learning activities are activities that kids can do at home with or without the supervision of a tutor or caregiver. There are different activities for different disciplines. Doing science experiments is an excellent way for kids to improve their science skills, for instance.
Here we’ll look at a few learning activities that improve skills in the two core academic areas in which many students have fallen behind over the course of the pandemic: literacy and math.
Credit: Ashton Bingham Via Unsplash
Journaling—by hand—is an excellent activity for kids to develop as readers, writers, and communicators. The process is simple. To journal, have your children write whatever comes to mind, whatever is bothering them, whatever they’re curious about, or whatever they want to remember.
Your children don’t have to show their journal to you or their tutors — they’re free to write whatever they wish without fear of criticism.
Journaling helps kids get into the practice of writing every day in their own natural voices. It turns writing into a more comfortable, habitual process, which they don’t need to feel overly self-conscious about. Journaling stimulates the creative and critical parts of the brain. Writing what comes to mind is an excellent way for students to simultaneously nourish their imaginations and enhance their analytical skills.
More, journaling benefits mental health. The act of journaling enables students to express themselves, arrange their thoughts, prioritize their problems and fears, identify and transcribe negative self-talk, and reflect on unhelpful behavioral patterns and unproductive habits.
Another excellent activity for kids to develop their literary skills and imagination is writing stories.
For kids who are unsure what to write about, asking them write about something that interests them outside of school is an effective way of getting them started. For instance, kids who are interested in dinosaurs may wish to write a story about travelling back in time with their friends to the Jurassic period. Kids who are interested in magic may wish to write a story about wizards and warlocks.
Older students may enjoy writing in the vein of their favorite authors.
A great way to overcome writer’s block is to write out, word by word, the opening page of a novel or story and, from there, proceed in an original direction.
The story that students end up writing is not the point. The point is to get them writing about something they’re excited about.
When the writing process is going well, writers enter what psychologists call a “state of flow.” In such a state, writers are so fully immersed in the writing process they lose their sense of time, cease being self-conscious, and experience a feeling of complete control and total concentration.
Creativity is intelligence having fun. By encouraging your kids to write stories, you also teach them to have fun learning.
There are math games tailored for kids of all ages. When trying to figure out math games for your children to play, it helps assess what level your child is at; grade 3 math activities are obviously different from grade 12 math activities.
It also helps to choose a game that fits well with your child’s unique learning style — a kinaesthetic (hands-on) learner is more likely to enjoy a hands-on game that involves lots of movement, whereas a visual leaner is more likely to enjoy a game that involves analyzing and rearranging three-dimensional shapes. If you have any questions about which games are best for your children, certified tutors know which games suit a child best.
One activity for young kids, for example, is Frog Leap. Frog Leap involves two simple steps: first the leap, then the measuring. A kid jumps like a frog (or any other kind of animal), then measures the jump with a measuring tape.
Perhaps one of the best and most stimulating math activities for students of all ages and abilities is chess. Playing chess with a tutor is another first-rate way for students to improve not only their capacities as mathematicians, but also their literacy abilities, memory and problem-solving skills, creativity, and foresight.
In order for students to engage fully in learning activities this summer, it helps to set up learning environments that are most conducive to their learning styles. Doing so means setting up spaces that are free of the things that distract them.
Limiting time wasted on the internet is also crucial. So too is setting break times, establishing set work hours, and constructing an efficient workplace set up.
Our certified tutors offer consistent and structured learning environments that are free of distractions. They understand what learning activities best suit your children’s learning style and educational goals and work with them accordingly, either online or in person, one-on-one or in learning pods.
Setting students up with a Prep Academy Tutor for the summer will help them stay intellectually engaged and more than ready to return to school in the fall.