Avoiding the school holiday slide.
Although I am very open with my blogging, there are some subjects that I do avoid, not out of any dishonesty but out of respect for my children and their right to some privacy. This is why with this post today, I won’t give you specifics about my own children other than to say that I have a child who struggles a lot at school, and who I have spent many a sleepless night worrying about.
For some children school is a breeze, they enjoy the fun parts of a lunchtime play with their friends and relish the challenge of some of the harder school work.
However for some children school is hard full stop. They may struggle with the work, and finding something hard that others seem to find so easy can be a real confidence drainer. They may feel themselves to be ‘stupid’ or inferior to others, when sometimes all they really need is a helping hand and someone to show them a way to make the words and instructions make sense to them personally.
Not everyone is a natural at everything, my cooking and also my inability to ride a bike is testament to that!
For the children who find school a bit harder than others, school holidays can be a real blip in their education. There have been studies in America that found that US students regress in all subjects over the Summer holidays. This school school holiday slide is obviously worrying.
Especially for the children who already struggle at school, as it is likely to take them longer to catch up after the holidays. If you are now in a panic after reading this because your children like mine only have a week left until they go back to school, then don’t panic.
I am going to share some tips with you from a company called Tutorfair to use between now and when they go back, and to make a note of for future school holidays.
Tutorfair are a company who provide tutors in London (I am so hoping they expand in future years, but the tips are universal anyway) and the ‘fair’ part of their name comes from the fact that for every child who pays for tutoring, they will help tutor a child who can not afford tutoring. They do this by volunteering their tutoring skills to schools, a scheme that I think should be rolled out across the rest of the country.
Anyway here are some of their top tips for keeping your child engaged and learning through the holidays, even if sometimes they won’t know they are. This ties in nicely with my post Making Learning Fun.
- Play not work
Summer learning should be fun. Whether you’re educating your children yourself, or enlisting the help of a nanny or tutor, take the lessons outside the classroom and discover activities that your child will enjoy. Find out about next year’s curriculum; just hearing about a topic in advance helps pupils to learn it quickly in the classroom. Create a treasure hunt with subject-specific clues – this has the added advantage of keeping them occupied for some time, depending on how tricky the questions are!
- Riveting Reading
Harris Cooper found that the poorest children lose the most reading skills, while those better off actually improved over the summer. The long summer break can be an opportunity for children to discover reading. Studies have shown that reading four to five books over the summer has a positive impact (comparable to attending summer school!) and on average students lose 2 months of reading skills over the summer.
Be inventive; even the most reluctant reader just needs the right trigger!
For the tech-savvy paper-phobic child you could purchase a family e-reader, or take a trip to your local library and encourage your child to choose books that he or she is interested in. You could also try the Summer Reading Challenge, which rewards children with stickers and certificates for free!
- Marvellous MathsAdapt recipe quantities while cooking to familiarise children with dividing, multiplying and using fractions. These questions crop up everywhere from primary school to GCSE Maths.When your 6-year-old asks, again, how long until his best friend arrives: ask him to work out the time in hours and minutes (or days and hours, depending on how early the excitement starts to build…) Young children find time calculations a challenge, counting in a base of 60 instead of the normal 10s and 100s.Children are natural entrepreneurs: if it would be safe and you can keep an eye on them, a home-made lemonade stall requires plenty of maths practice. Just keep an eye on the recipe to make sure they produce something drinkable! Ask them to calculate the profit margin and hourly earnings – useful to know when employing a younger sibling…
- Whirlwind Writing
Long car journey? Encourage your children to pass the time telling stories, this will help develop their linguistic creativity as well as stopping them from pinching each other! You can even offer a prize for the best story.
Postcards are also a cheap and appealing way of getting a child to pen a few lines to a friend.
- Super Science
Take advantage of the British summer weather: after the next rain shower, draw chalk circles round a few puddles, to observe the water cycle. Even in our damp conditions, your child will see evaporation in action as the puddle shrinks.
In the garden or park, ask your child to collect small (one leaf is good) samples from different plant species. Go over these samples together, discussing differences and similarities, and why one plant is classed as a different species from another.
- Summer Tuition
Children are remarkably good at learning in different environments with different people, and if you can afford some extra help, a tutor could be just what they need to inject some educational fun into the holidays.
This doesn’t mean someone who will sit at home forcing algebra over the kitchen table! Most tutors are, by now, as fed up of painful exam-cramming as you and your children, and will be only too happy to rediscover the joy of learning over summer.
Try Tutorfair a website that helps you find the best tutors in your area, and for every student who pays, Tutorfair gives free tuition to a child who can’t.
*collaborative post but all thoughts expressed as my own as always are just that*