글 Young(Angela) Park (리지필드 공립 초등학교 교사)
Weather is getting warmer, days are getting longer… Yep, summer vacation is just around the corner! How should my child spend the summer days? What can I do to prepare my child for the upcoming school year? These are questions we get often from parents as the school year approaches the end. There is no one right answer to these questions, but the key is finding the balance between leisure and learning.
Summer is a great opportunity for a child to grow through hands-on exploration, social interactions, and novel experiences. Children grow and mature tremendously over the summer months. They grow taller, mature emotionally, and become increasingly more independent. However, as an educa-tor, we see too often that some children actually experience a learning loss – summer slide- as we call it in schools, over the few weeks of break. Students come back to school in September with a drop in reading ability and other academic performances.
We all start off the summer vacation with much anticipation and excitement, but without structure and routine in the daily schedule, all too soon, video games, TV, and tablets can consume the children’s summer vacation days. With just a little preparation and guidance from parents, however, the summer slide can be avoided. So what is the secret recipe to a fun-filled enriching summer experience?
There are many learning opportunities in the summer. Whether your child is enrolled in an academic program, or you have educational trips planned, keep your child’s mind actively engaged throughout the sum-mer months. Identify areas where your child may need extra support. Consider finding a program or study group that may help them to catch up in the specific area. Have your child read. Most schools have summer reading lists, and many give reading homework. Keep a con-sistent reading habit over the summer, and help your child find books that interest them to foster a love for books.
Healthy mind, healthy body. The mind and body are connected. Your child’s mind will be most alert and ready to learn when the body is healthy. If your child has found a favorite sport, immerse your child in it. Summer is also a great time to explore new and different sports. As ed-ucators, we encourage children to be involved in team sports. Through physical activity, children best learn to work as a team and cooperate with one another. Sportsmanship is another crucial skill learned, gain-ing confidence through winning, but also learning to lose gracefully.
More and more, children are losing play time. With so much demand put on our children, they are losing time to be imaginative and creative. Have them enjoy the sun, and play outdoors. Let them run around and just be kids. Social interactions can’t be taught inside a classroom, children need to learn on their own about social norms and how to get along with one another. Summer is the perfect time to let your kids play. And you all know, I’m not talking about playing on the tablet or the phone!
This one is my favorite, and I believe, the most important. Yes, who doesn’t love a week-long trip to a fantasy island? By all means, if time and finances aren’t an issue, go for it! But family trips don’t have to be long or fancy. Make one day or weekend trips just to get away from it all and spend quality time with one another. Converse with your child, Find out what’s on their mind, and let them know you care. There is something very magical about this quality family time that opens up a child and helps them to become receptive to the world around them.
There may not be one secret recipe to a perfect summer, but balance is the key. A bit of learning, a bit of playing equals a whole lot of fun and tons of growing opportunities, happy summer!
Young (Angela) Park
-Elementary school teacher at Ridgefield Public Schools
-Masters of Arts in Elementary Teaching from Montclair State University
-Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Psychology from New York University
-Teacher of elementary grades for over 10 years
-Co-Founder of SJ Enrichment Summer Camp (summer camp based in Palisades Park and Paramus (formerly Demarest) since 2011
-Mother of 4 year old boy