Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Summer Academics

Parents, you've heard it a million times - keep the kids working and learning over the summer.  Don't let their brains become so filled with lemonade that they have forgotten how to conjugate a verb or add an equation by the time the get back to school.  They have their summer packets from school, but I've learned from past summers that for the little ones, they can get these done in a concentrated effort of 2, maybe 3 days.  What about the other 70-some days?

Math. You remember math - geometry, algebra, trig. Or more to the point, maybe you don't.  And until the kids know 7x8 as well as they know their favorite ice cream flavor, they need to keep practicing.  What math skills are studied over the summer, obviously, depend on the level of math your child is in at school. Perhaps, they had a tough year and they need to reinforce what they learned in order to be ready for the next level.  Or, they may have had a good math year and are confident in their arithmetic skills.  I supply my kids with a stack of math workbooks for the summer, trying to span a little reinforcement from the previous year and a challenge of looking forward to next year's math.  This year, I've got Singapore Math for the word problems and Kumon for the basic skills (ex. how to multiply fractions).
Math work for every grade
Our schools are going with the Common Core Standards curriculum; I noticed at the bookstore some books are stamped with a "Common Core aligned" emblem. I didn't check all the details, but from my understanding of this new curriculum, the main point is to push the kids to think in a wider range than "15 + 10 = ?" and develop a greater range of thinking and problem solving skills.  Thus, I have a word problem set for each of the kids - 3rd grade, 5th grade, and Algebra-based.

Reading.  We put our library cards into overdrive for the summer.  I encourage them to read a book a week - a mere 8 books over the summer!  Elle also has required reading for 9th grade, with related written work, so that of course is her priority, but she's the reader and will get a bunch of leisure reading done, too.  Our library has a book challenge, when the kids have read a certain number of books, they get a prize. Barnes & Noble offers one, too.

Make up your own house reading challenge - number of books for the younger set, number of pages for the older folks.  I'm not big on elaborate prizes, but do consider one, I mean, what's a challenge without a prize. Perhaps a book gift card, getting to pick out cupcakes when the challenge is met, or an outing to somewhere fun.

Check my post specifically on reading for more tips on getting thru the summer books.
Learning cursive is on the summer agenda
 Writing. What the kids write isn't as important to me as the fact that they do. Grab one of those notebooks from the school year (if like my kids, most are half-full) and have them write each day during the summer break.  Just one page. Whatever they want. They'll get practice in thinking, writing, spelling in a non-pressure environment.  And they'll get handwriting practice which leads me to the next item.

Cursive.  Perhaps its the new curriculum, but my little ones don't get cursive in school.  J is going into 5th grade and only writes in print. I know the arguments: "no room in the curriculum," "everybody types anyway," "at least they can print."  Yeah, heard it all. But what happens when they are given something in cursive and then have to say, "I can't read this"?  What happens when they have to actually sign their name on something?  What happens when they become grown people and want to write in something other than their elementary print?  Cursive writing is on the list for the summer.  (BTW - I printed letter guides from www.handwritingforkids.com.)

All this, and yes, we will still manage to get to the pool and basketball games and tennis practice and the  zoo and the park and make ice cream and cook dinner and have a picnic and lounge around and do nothing.  It is summer, after all.


Robyn said...

What summer workbooks do you get Lauren?

Mommyx4 said...

She's going into high school - so I've had to look in the college level section for math. I got Algebra II/Trig books. I got her the [Math} for Dummies - series for Algebra & Geometry; at first she was offended (ha ha!) but then did say that they were really good with helpful explanations she could return to during the school year.