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Summer Sponges: Minds of Children Soak Up Knowledge

Aug 17, 2007
The time is upon us parents, teachers and care givers. We have the charming challenge of keeping the troops happy. Most of us know that there is a probable decline in cognitive development in our children during the summers if in traditional school settings. In fact, the latest report from a professor of Duke University states that most children lose approximately one month worth of learning over the summer time - many losing math and reading skills.

What is a parent to do? Our vision of a perfect summer for our kids involves hopes of making great family memories with those all-family vacations, relaxation combined with rejuvenation for both children and parents not to mention the fending off of the ever-famous daily statements of boredom and inability to find one thing to do.

What is a child to do? Their vision of a perfect summer for themselves involves hopes of sleeping in, having fun and only fun not to mention the fending off of any learning-related task, activity, book or program.

I play both sides of the fence when it comes to summer. Having spent more than ten years in the classroom I truly relished the countdown to summer. I loved my students, but I loved my summers free just as equally. Having been a mother for more than seventeen years I truly relish the countdown to the end of summer! I love my children, but I love the regular routine and schedule that the school year provides our family.

The following tidbits come from both sides of the fence and combine to create some sizzling moments for those little sponge-like brains to soak up the knowledge and keep their brains active during the dog days of summer.

*Read! Read! Read! Oh I know! You are busy - you do not even have time to read the business section of the newspaper each morning much less plunk down on the floor with Junior for 5 and read a cool book to him that has been sitting in his room since the Holidays - unread! Come on! You are the best teacher for your child. You are the best role model for your child. You know your child loves, loves, loves the time you spend focusing on just him! And for the older children (elementary school age) - they are probably into chapter books, and the selections these days are terrific! I have never been so into the reading selections of my child as I have been this past year. And then there are the teens! Find books about what they love right now. (For us that is billiards, basketball and World Series of Poker.) Your local library can provide you with a multitude of books from which to choose for all ages of children.

*Problem Solvers of America stand up and be recognized! Yes! Your children need your creative genius to kick in and keep the math mind active during the summer months. You can do this. At restaurants use the menu as a math mini lesson, ask them to estimate what the total bill would be, have them calculate the tip based on 15% and then 20%, check your time of placing the order and have the kids time the food preparation. You get my drift! Use your car time for math problems - mental math is something our generation of children is losing thanks to cell phone calculators, math/science calculators and more. Once you are back in the house use your cooking time for fractions, measurements and time lessons (SSSSHHH! Do not mention the word lesson please!) If you give out allowance get the kids involved in totaling the value of their contributions around the home and their designations for the money.

*Mindless Couch Potatoes Beware! You are the parent! You need to limit the TV time, the computer time, the Nintendo DS, Game Cube, Game Boy, Game Player, Game Watcher, Game Gobble-Your-Child-Mind-Machine now, today, ahora, pronto! It is so hard. I am no saint, no poster mom for this one, but I do know how important it is. We all read the studies, and we hear the reports on the negative effects of multi-media entertainment on children (whether attributed to the violent nature, the amount of time involved, the over stimulation, the constant barrage of media hype). We all know it is in the best interest of our children to monitor what is going into their brains via these devices. So try to get your children balanced in their outdoor time, reading time, quiet/down time, family time and life in general.
Make the summers work for you and, more importantly, for your child!

Turn your vacations into a classroom without the kids knowing it by sneaking in the local museum or park or zoo for a few hours. Use that portable DVD player for some edutaining DVDs (local libraries are great places for rentals). Travel to a spot none of you have been and so some great research together incorporating map skills, science skills for the weather/climate of the destination and language skills by learning new languages specific to that area.
About the Author
Beth Butler is the creator of the BOCA BETH Language Learning Series for young children. Find out how fun and easy it can be to introduce Spanish to your child. Sample the BOCA BETH bilingual music and movies for free at http://www.bocabeth.com
Call toll free 1.877.825.2622
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