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Local lifestyle columnists

Summer fun can help retain, build skills

By From page A2 | June 26, 2014

Time is the most valuable commodity there is. Before we know it, summer vacation is over and it’s time for children to return to school. So, it’s a good idea to think about ways to make sure that those hard-earned skills from the school year are not totally forgotten.

Research points out that over the summer months, many children lose valuable reading and math skills learned during the school year. But with a little planning, there are many ways in which parents, child care providers, grandparents and others can prevent this from happening.

Years ago, summer school was available for parents to send their children to school for all kinds of reasons. Some children went to summer school to learn something new; others went to learn more about a subject taken during the regular school year; and some parents simply used summer school as child care for their children.

When my first-born was struggling a bit with high school math, I sent him to summer school to repeat an algebra class that he took during the regular school year. The next summer, he went to summer school and repeated geometry. Years later, he told me that repeating those classes in summer school took away his fear of math. “It all just opened up to me,” he said. Today, he works as an Internet technology administrator in the Bay Area.

Now, summer school is no longer available for all children. That’s really unfortunate. There should be summer school offerings for learning new things, remedial work, and for repeating courses when needed.

Today, it’s up to parents to shop around in the community for free activities or those that charge a fee. The Daily Republic newspaper does a good job of informing its readers about events and offerings in the community. Some churches like Mount Calvary and others do offer academic summer school programs. The public library is a great place for information, activities and events offered at the library over the summer.

Writing about the importance of introducing children to books, author Lynne Rae Perkins, wrote, “Read a lot. Draw a lot. For the time being just do it for fun.” Perkins won the Newbery Medal in 2006. Each year, the John Newbery Medal goes to the author of the outstanding children’s book.

That same year, Chris Raschka won the Caldecott Medal. The Caldecott goes to the illustrator of the most distinguished picture book for children. So don’t forget to encourage your child to read and draw. There just might be a Newbery or Caldecott winner in the making.

Assemblywoman Mariko Yamada recently gave me a beautiful, creative and sensitive book for children, written by Dr. Loriene Honda and beautifully illustrated by Jimmy Tsutomu Mirikitani. “The Cat Who Chose to Dream” is about a cat who accompanied a Japanese-American family in the World War II internment camps.

Going through some old school materials, I ran across some pointers to help children retain and build skills over the summer.

  • Take your child to the library. If your child doesn’t own a library card, getting one will be a happy experience.
  • Begin a “made up story” and let your child finish it for you.
  • Make sock or mitten puppets. Talking and playing with puppets can be educational and a lot of fun.

Your local newspaper is worthwhile for building reading skills because it:

  • Encourages reading for fun and information and broadens the variety of materials read.
  • Helps children become aware of the daily events happening around them and allows a wider understanding of local, national and international issues.

Using a newspaper, here are a couple of things that you and your child can do together. Read an editorial in your local newspaper and underline in green the facts; then underline in orange the opinions; next, pick a headline and turn it into a question. Then read the article to see if the question is answered.

Last but not least, remember to use praise when your child succeeds. Make plans now to have fun as well as a productive summer.

Mayrene Bates is a trustee on the Solano County Board of Education. Reach her by email at [email protected].

Mayrene Bates

Mayrene Bates is a trustee with the Solano County Board of Education.

Discussion | 1 comment

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  • CD BrooksJune 26, 2014 - 10:06 am

    We have planned a lot of activities this summer and reading breaks are part of that. Our 8 year old granddaughter read one million words and our 6 year old grandson read one hundred thousand words before the school year ended and we feel it is important to keep that brain stimulation going! On our recent trip to Universal Studios we went back to our room for our built-in afternoon lunch breaks and the kids took time to read. They read or do educational project books every day before we swim or go somewhere. In fact they’re reading right now!

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