Learn to Maintain Your Child's Academic Skills
Teach Them How to be Competent Adults, too!
Parents are a child's first, and most important, teacher! Learn how to help your kids.
Everyone, even a young child, needs an occasional break from the intense pressure of school or work. However, after a 10 to 12 week summer vacation, many children return to school poorly prepared to get back into the routine. In addition, high school age children often have not learned the skills they need to take care of themselves in college or in their first apartment. As a parent, grandparent and educator, I have always told my adult daughters that they are their children's first, and most important, teachers. They need to take responsibility for being certain that their children reach their full academic potential. They also need to pass on essential life skills to their children. What can parents do during the summer to help their children compete with their peers when they return to school in the fall, while also teaching them the skills they need to have a successful adult life? Parental education should fall into three general categories: academics, life skills, and lifetime hobbies and sports.
First, to help your child academically, find some summer bridging activities that are designed to help your children review what they did during the past school year, as well as get a head start on the work they will be doing in the fall. You can find many workbooks designed to help children at your local bookstore or you can use this direct link to bridging workbooks on Amazon. They have them for every grade level. I did this with my own children, who are now grown, and they appreciated the help so much they now do it with their own children.
Some of these workbooks will help them with their math, grammar, reading, science and social studies, in less than an hour a day. Just this little bit of academic work during the summer will help keep your child on track, so they don't forget everything they learned during the past year. It will also help expose them to some of the new material they will be expected to learn in the fall. This will make them more confident and comfortable when the teacher presents this new material to them.
What else can you do to help prepare your child to be successful in school? Expose them to as many new experiences as you reasonably can. Create your own fun "field trips." Take them to the zoo, state parks in your area, the county courthouse, your local fire station and museums. Teach them to read maps, so they understand how maps work. Make sure they know how to tell time, to tie their shoes, and to cook simple meals. Teach them how to keep score when you go bowling, or play tennis, and you will help enhance their understanding of math.
What are some of the life skills you should teach your child? Do your children have a bank account? Developing a relationship with a bank, and learning how interest can help them accumulate even more money, is an important skill. If they are teenagers, help them to get a checking account and teach them how to keep records of their spending and balance their bank account.
Is there an election coming up? Show them how you decide who to vote for, and then take your children with you to the voting booth and let them watch you vote, if that is permitted.
Think about the skills that they will need when they get their first apartment. Even a 10 year old can begin to learn some of the skills they will eventually need in order to be able to live on their own. Teach your children to do their own laundry, iron simple items of clothing, sew, wash dishes, dust, vacuum, and, when they are old enough, how to prepare meals. I work with high school age students, and you would be surprised how many teenagers are uncomfortable performing everyday tasks. These are skills that parents need to teach in a fun, loving way. You may have more valuable knowledge than you realize. If you have successfully lived your own life, managed a home, bought cars, made repairs, and handled your own responsibilities, then you have important skills that you can pass on to your children. Spend a little time each week passing on some of your knowledge.
When children know how to cook, clean, handle a bank account, and participate in civic duties, they feel much more confident about succeeding in life. When they have been encouraged to develop academically, and reach their full potential in school, they begin to believe in themselves and their ability to reach their goals. This sense of pride and accomplishment is something only a parent can fully develop in their children.
Lifetime Sports and Hobbies:
Sadly, many children die every summer from drowning in a pool or lake. Swimming is a lifetime sport that every child should know how to do. But this is not the only lifetime sport that will benefit them. What other sports or hobbies does your family enjoy? Whether it is sailing, golf, bowling, fishing, soccer, tennis or jogging, teach your child the fundamentals of these activities in a loving, patient manner and they will enjoy participating in these activities with you. Gradually, their skills will improve until they feel confident in their ability to have fun participating in these sports.
Do you have hobbies that your child is interested in? Instead of shooing them away, teach them to crochet, knit, operate a ham radio, create a scrapbook, paint, collect coins, or engage in similar activities. Having hobbies will enrich their lives throughout the decades.
Never forget, you are your child's first, and most important teacher. With a little help and encouragement, you can produce confident, competent children who will not only succeed in school next fall, but who will be able to succeed in life in the years to come!
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Example of a Summer Bridge Workbook
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(price as of Jun 28, 2016)