Thanks to the creative team of Good Day Chicago for having me on this morning for a fabulous segment on helping children avoid “summer slide” this morning (for those who missed it, we’ll share it here).
Both parents and teachers want children to stay sharp during the summer so they reenter school in the fall with their confidence and skills in place. In any short segment offered on TV, one edits a well-rounded discussion into a few points.
For those wanting more information on this topic, please consider these five reminders of things to consider in the summertime. I use the word “APPLE” as a good reminder for five categories of summer learning:
A – ALPHABET
Notice and encourage alphabet symbols, letter sounds, verbal wordplay and written words in your child’s summer pretend. Whether children are busily creating their own menu when playing pretend “restaurant” or gathering sticks in the shapes of alphabet letters, bringing written symbols into childhood play is invaluable for bridging summer and fall learning.
P - PATTERNS
Parents wishing to encourage math thinking tend to remember counting and arithmetic. However, many of us forget the importance of patterns that repeat in a linear fashion, or symmetrically. Both of which are crucial underpinnings to a great deal of math. I recommend that we continue the valuable investigation of symmetry that we do in winter, with paper snowflake cutting tasks, into summer by cutting colorful “flower flakes.” This can be done in a simple fashion with scissors and paper, or more complexity and intricacy can be investigated in our iPad game called Snowflake Station. It is a fantastic tool for making symmetrical summer designs like flowers, fish or shining suns.
P - POSITION and DIRECTION
Words such as left, right, over, under, are terms that teachers use each day in class as they offer instructions. Encourage summer games that use these words and concepts. Games like Twister, or an adventure-filled “penny hike” choosing whether to go left or right by flipping a coin, are great for keeping this thinking alive in the summer. Playing partnership games, where one gives direction and the other follows, are extremely valuable. Our upcoming iPad app called Left-Right Pup (to be released July 10th) is the perfect game for children to practice these concepts while also exploring turn-taking, social leadership and following directions. The artistic settings of a fun-filled park & sunny beach are great for summer fun.
L – LITERACY
Not only do parents need to read to children each day, but it is helpful to notice if books and writing tasks are being included in pretend. Reading helps keep their receptive literacy skills moving forward and writing/drawing with a good pincer grip helps keep a child’s expressive literacy skills moving forward. Our app, Chalk Walk, is the only emerging literacy iPad game that uses a thumb-finger hand positioning on the touch screen to ensure that children hold onto and improve this crucial skill. Have fun with real sidewalk chalk and our iPad sidewalk chalk in Chalk Walk.
E – EMPOWERMENT
Old clocks, calendars and visual dictionaries are just some of the tools that can encourage children to be empowered in their own day and in their own learning. Give children their own calendar so they can keep track of how many days ‘til grandma comes to town, or how many hours until dinner. Summer can feel like a long time without any exploration of time-keeping, but especially in summer, let’s remember to let children be empowered to explore these tools as much as possible. I love putting an analog clock next to a digital clock to encourage children to figure out the connections between the two.