Crevette came home a couple of weeks ago with his last ever Key Stage 1 school report. It was also the first time he had brought home some levels. That gave me a clearer idea of how he was really making progress. It made a nice change from the usual “working at age appropriate level,” below or above, which frankly are too ‘wishy washy’ for me. I knew he was doing fine, but I was never sure what I needed to help him with.
Looking at his report, I now know for sure that my little man is doing really well in Reading, Speaking and Maths. I am also aware I have to support him with his spelling and writing skills. The report was glowing, and showing he really was a well-rounded member of his class. I am incredibly proud of my little man. Despite all this, I cannot help but be concerned about the amount of basic spelling mistakes he still makes.
To me, spelling accurately and using correct grammar are incredibly important. Seeing “there” or “they’re” instead of “their” in a piece of written work makes me cringe. Without making it too much of a big thing, I would like to help my little man get his writing up to scratch. So far, we have been playing word games in French, writing short texts about the holidays and I really think he can improve his writing whilst having fun.
When I was growing up, my summer holidays would last between 8 and 12 weeks. My mum would always get me un cahier de vacances (summer workbook) and as far as I remember, most of my friends were getting them as well. I was working for an hour or so in the morning and I could enjoy the rest of the day after that and make the most of the summer holidays. Despite a long break from school, I never really felt that ‘summer learning loss’ people sometimes mention.
The workbooks focused on the main skills learnt throughout the academic year, and also tackled new topics that would give me a bit of a head start. Earlier today, I thought I should try and make sure my little ones’ brains were still stimulated (without overdoing it) during our time off.
Here are my 5 tips to Avoid Summer Learning Loss
1. What Learning Loss?
At the start of the summer holidays, it is always a good idea to leaf through exercise books from the previous year, note what skills or concepts were not completely assimilated. Practising skills learned over the past year, and getting a head start on the upcoming curriculum can help jump-start learning, and confidence, come September.
2. I Can Do this!
The summer holidays are a great opportunity to strengthen understanding of a range of topics, practise, catch up and focus on areas they might have struggled with during the academic year. There are lots of free websites and apps you can use to reinforce a range of skills. Being ‘good’ at a subject is all about feeling competent. If children are feeling confident and secure in a subject area, they are more likely to enjoy it.
Your mission this summer could be to get your child(ren) really motivated about a subject they did not particularly enjoy last academic year. Telling them, “I was rubbish at Maths, too!” certainly does not help. You are just making it OK for them to give up on a subject.
3. Have a Routine
I know, I know, the idea of a routine sounds boring, but if the children understand that each day always follow the same structure, they will be a lot less likely to moan about their short working session. There might not be too much drama when it is time to go to bed (please let me dream, people!). This is what Crevette (7 years old) and I have just agreed we would try to do (and impose on everyone else!). We will of course be flexible and things could change, but the general idea is there:
7-9 a.m.: wake up, have breakfast and watch cartoons on TV
9-9.45 a.m.: short learning session (Focus on counting / times tables, writing, spellings, French games)
10-11.45 a.m.: Outdoors (beach, walk, shopping, market…)
11.45 a.m.-2.45 p.m.: lunch, rest, a bit of reading, nap for the younger ones
3-6 p.m.: outdoors (beach, walk)
6-8 p.m.: dinner, chat, reading
8-9 p.m.: evening walk or board games
9 p.m.: Bedtime for the children and downtime for the adults. Crevette can read to his sisters for 30 minutes or so.
4. We Love a Project
Learning new skills is fun when you are not tied to a rigid syllabus, and small projects will ensure an easier transition back to school in September. Crevette has just suggested building a huge sandcastle with a moat around it and canals within the fortress.
That is our project for the summer and we will make sure we plan it, build it and destroy it when we are finished with it! We are off to the seaside in a couple of days and so far, Crevette has been gathering ideas on Pinterest board. He has found sandcastle tutorials, a great video, a list of tools we might need to use as well as writing frames.
5. A Smooth Transition
Moving schools can be a potentially distressing time. Three of my little ones are starting something new in September. Crevette will be moving to Junior School (Year 3), Beanie will start school (Reception), and Jumpy will be experiencing pre-school for the first time. They will all be in a new environment, making new friends and working to a new set of expectations.
The key is to communicate and get the children excited and involved in this whole new chapter. Last week, Crevette and I went shopping for stationery. He chose his own pencil case, new lunch bag and pens. Beanie was happy to get her three school dresses. Just before school starts, all three of them will choose their new school shoes and Jumpy will have her own backpack for pre-school. We will walk to school, point at their classrooms and label their outfits together. There might even be a school clothes fashion show somewhere in the middle of all this.