Spring may be taking its sweet time to get here in some places, but each day that passes means summer is one step closer! What are your family’s plans for filling the long days of July and August? While family vacations, days at the beach, and lounging by the pool are all likely on your list, summer learning should be as well.
FACT: Summer learning loss affects ALL students
Brains don’t have an off switch. School may shut down for two months, but brains need continuous stimulation in order to remain sharp. Without keeping the brain active over the summer holiday, students can need up to six weeks to return to the learning level they were at the year before. It is a misconception that summer school is only for students who have failed the previous year: summer learning is essential for all students to be prepared in September to learn new material from day one.
FACT: Summer learning loss is cumulative
The curriculum doesn’t stop because a student falls behind. After the summer, students who need several weeks to get back into their school routine and catch up to where they left off in June can fall behind and stay behind for the entire year. If the problem is not fixed, they can start every school year behind and never properly be at the level needed to be successful. The summer is the perfect time to catch up and get ahead.
FACT: Math skills take the hardest hit
It is no secret that many students struggle with math. Grade nine math is the most failed subject, and studies suggest that 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency can be lost over the summer if students do not partake in some form of learning program.
FACT: All summer learning loss is avoidable
Though studies document the negative effect summer can have on students, there’s good news: learning losses are avoidable. Summer learning programs allow students to focus on trouble areas and keep skills sharp in as little as 2-3 hours a week, which helps them maintain momentum, and head back to class prepared for the new school year. Knowing how to avoid summer learning loss is the first step to making this holiday the most productive yet! Students can head back to class confident and prepared to achieve any academic goals they have in mind!
Now is the time to start researching summer camps and programs that will help maintain learning momentum and get students ready to hit the ground running next school year. Contact your local Oxford Learning Centre to ask about our summer programming, and remember, learning doesn’t stop just because school does!
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Want Better Grades Next Fall? Get Outside this Summer.
There are many factors to consider in the quest for better grades. There’s the academic considerations: increased study time, hiring tutors, developing better habits such as time management and organization, and fine-tuning in-class learning skills.
But new studies are showing that one factor that is often overlooked in the quest to improve kids’ educational experience: nature.
The so-called “Nature-Deficit Disorder” is not necessarily a new term, but researchers and educators are recognizing and embracing the call of the wild and making it an essential part of the curriculum.
Getting outdoors in the summer is win-win-win.
WIN 1: Outdoor activity increases health benefits and combats the worrisome rise of childhood obesity rates in North America.
WIN 2: It increases blood flow to the brain, nourishing brain cells and strengthening neural connections. It improves mood and combats depression, which improves focus.
WIN 3: It gets kids outside, and away from the screens.
A new British survey has even put together a “Bucket List” of Outdoor Activities For Kids to do before they are 11 and three-quarters. (But no explanation of why 11 and three-quarters is the magic age. If you know why, let us know! )
Here are just a few of the ideas from the Free-and-Easy-and-Fun activities that you can easily incorporate into your family’s summer To-Do List:
- Fly a kite
- Learn how to skip a stone
- Make a Mud pie
- Dam a stream
- Bury someone in the sand
- Climb a tree
- Plant something.
- Discover what’s in a pond
- Find your way with a compass
So get the kids outside this summer! Lather on the sunscreen and don’t be afraid of scraped knees. Summer outdoor activity is critical to both childhood and to grades.
Don’t leave yet! Read more:
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By now, the importance of summer learning is well known. Students of all ages need to keep the cognitive wheels turning in order to maintain their learning momentum and not experience the backward summer slide.
There are an entire summer’s worth of ideas available to keep kids busy all summer long–the sky’s the limit! But don’t let all the options overwhelm you. We’ve chosen our top 3 simple summer activities that should be on every family’s To-Do List. Maintaining academic momentum over the summer has never been easier!
1. READ! READ! READ!
Put less focus on WHAT is being read and focus on making regular, habitual reading part of the daily summer routine. Novels, comics, magazines, blogs… it doesn’t matter so long as you’ve got a reading routine. Want to take it to the next level? Talk about what you have just read. Make connections, and look up unknown words. Research the book online, or draw illustrations for what you’ve just read—the key is to think actively about the reading.
Writing is an extension of reading–they go hand-in hand. Whether it’s keeping a scrapbook, writing in a journal, or blogging online, daily writing helps to develop those critical communication skills that lead to great essays and even better grades. Need some ideas about what to write? Start a short story and add to it every day, or simply recount the day’s activities. It doesn’t have to be well-crafted literature to help keep skills sharp. So pick up a pen, and grab some paper and write someone a letter, even if it’s only to yourself.
Don’t underestimate the value of old-fashioned board games and puzzles. Whether it’s Sudoku, Crosswords, or traditional jigsaw puzzles, games teach necessary higher-level thinking skills such as strategy and planning. Plus, they help develop focus and attention, and often incorporate critical school skills such as math and reading. Best of all, they can offer hours of family-friendly fun with a little bit of learning mixed in.
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1. It’s going to be here before you know it. Sure, the New Year may have just begun, but before you know it, Spring Break will be over, and kids will be studying for exams and handing in their final term projects… Which means that it’s not too early to think about what your kids are going to be doing this summer.
2. Summer can undo what your child is learning RIGHT NOW. You know that test you help little Timmy study for last week? Well, without maintaining his learning momentum and study skills over the break, Timmy can easily forget everything that he’s working hard to learn right now, which means you may find yourself creating long division flash cards again next year.
3. Summer can have an impact on how your child learns NEXT YEAR. After a summer off, it can take kids up to 3 months to get back into the swing of learning. That represents a huge amount of wasted learning opportunities.
4. Kids WANT to learn in the summer. The numbers don’t lie. Research in summer learning studies shows that 56% of students want to be involved in a summer program that “helps kids keep up with summer schoolwork or prepare for the next grade.”
5. Summer programs fill up fast. Most programs are already accepting applications and taking reservations for summer enrollment. Schools and Oxford Learning are no exception.
Now that we’ve got you thinking about summer and learning, why not contact your nearest Oxford Learning centre and enroll in one of the many great summer program options?
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When spring is in the air, it’s natural to start thinking about what summer will bring. Our Spring Newsletter can help! It’s packed with tips to help make spring great, and get your family ready to have a great summer!
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Download our summer learning newsletter—it’s packed with tips to help your family make the most out of the summer vacation!
click image to download PDF
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Myth 1: Kids need the summer off to recharge.
While the school year can be tiring and mentally demanding, kids actually thrive with the daily routine and framework that the school year provides. A break from the school-year routine can be invigorating for a short period of time, but a too-long break (ie: summer) doesn’t help students feel recharged: it leads to boredom.
Without replacing the school day structure with summer camps or other programs, children can become bored very easily. Video games, texting, movies, and lounging by the pool are fun, but there is only so much relaxation and downtime that kids can deal with before they get tired of that, too. And boredom is rarely a pre-cursor to a willingness to jump back into learning.
Providing mentally stimulating summer activities that are reliable and routine is the best way to avoid summer boredom and keep kids charged up and ready to take on a new school year.
Myth 2: If summer was not intended to be a break, school wouldn’t shut down.
The most common school year as we know it—from September to June—exists because of two main historic reasons: At the turn of the last century, agricultural societies required children to help out with farming chores during busy growing seasons and, in cities, schools were unbearably hot during summer and made teaching and learning in poorly-ventilated buildings a health hazard. The current 180-day school calendar is still in place, even if the reasons for it are no longer valid.
In fact, many school boards have made the move to year-round schooling, offering several shorter break periods throughout the year, rather than one long one in the summer.
School boards don’t intend summer to be a “break” for students—policy makers are simply continuing to follow a system that has been in place for many years, and, coincidentally, one that has come to be beneficial to cash-strapped school boards.
Read more about the history of the school year.
Myth 3: Summer isn’t part of the school year.
Summer is just as important to a student’s overall learning experience as what is learned from September to June. In terms of the brain, learning runs 24-7, all year round.
The time away from school is a very important opportunity for many students to fill in learning gaps, make sense of material learning during the school year, and improve/develop important learning skills such as reading comprehension and organization. It’s the time to get extra help that there may not be chance to get while school is in session. It’s the chance to experience in-class lessons first hand. And, it’s the only chance that students have to adequately prepare for the year ahead.
It’s time to stop thinking about the school year as September to June: there is no final bell on a student’s education.
Myth 4: Summer school is for students who get bad grades.
While summer school may have at one time been reserved for those students needing extra help, that is no longer the case. From Calgary to Chicago, reports are showing that summer school attendance is on the rise, and it’s not because students are performing poorly throughout the school year. Students looking to get ahead, to tackle extra credits, and get a competitive advantage by signing themselves up for summer school.
New Trend Alert! With education becoming increasingly competitive, and increasingly global, summer is the perfect time for students to pull ahead. Without having to balance the workload of the regular school year, students can make impressive academic gains and reduce school- year stress. We foresee a rise in summer school popularity. It’s time to get over summer school misconceptions and get ahead.
Myth 5: Summer will makes students refreshed and ready to learn in the fall.
This is the scariest myth about summer learning. After a summer spent relaxing, students may feel refreshed, but they are far from ready to learn. Research into summer learning has shown that after taking a two-month break, students have lost approximately 20-30 % of their academic learning momentum: they’ve gone backward in terms of learning. These studies also show that teachers typically spend up to six weeks re-teaching last year’s material. Students aren’t ready to learn after a summer off: they’ve lost their learning momentum after two months of video games and relaxing at the beach. The summer slide, the brain drain, or summer learning losses—whatever you call it, it can be easily prevented. A few hours a week of active academic style learning keeps the brain sharp, so that when falls rolls around, students actually are ready to learn.
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Ah, Summer! For many students, summer is the perfect time to chill out and relax.
It’s the perfect time to catch up with friends.
It’s the perfect time to lounge by the pool and hit the beach.
It’s also the perfect time to develop bad habits, to get off track, and to lose academic standing.
In summer, one of two things can happen to the average student:
- They can lose learning momentum, fall behind, and end up starting the new school year at a disadvantage.
- They can catch up in trouble areas, and get a head start on the new school year.
Enter summer learning. Summer learning is not a new concept, but it is becoming increasingly important. Education is becoming more competitive. Students don’t have time to slack off…not even for a couple of months.
Summer school is no longer a punishment for under-performing students; it’s an opportunity for students to improve their learning abilities and get a jump on their classmates. In fact, statistics show that summer school enrollment is up—and not just for students who need extra help: students looking to get ahead and make the upcoming school year easier are choosing summer school in lieu of traditionally popular summer activities.
While there are many ways to keep the brain active during the summer,(see the ABCs of Summer Learning) the best way to avoid the summer learning slide is to engage in some type of formal academic learning all summer long.
After all, the brain never stops learning, so why should students?
In terms of a child’s education, summer is just as important as the rest of school year. Oxford Learning has many great summer programs available to help students avoid the summer learning slide. Contact your local Oxford Learning centre for more information.
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Or, 13 more ways to make learning part of your summer.
N: Nature. Take a nature hike, stopping along the path to look at plants and animals. This is a great place to practice description skills. Engage children to think actively about what they encounter by asking questions, “why do you think that tree is dead?” “What kind of animal might have left that footprint?”
O: Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning Camps and programs are an easy way to maintain learning momentum over the summer. Our programs help students catch up in trouble areas, keep up with their classmates, and get a head start on next year’s subjects.
P: Puzzles. Like board games puzzles are great downtime activities that keep the brain challenged. Whether playing Sudoku, Crosswords, search-a-words, or traditional puzzles, this is a fun way to challenge your mind and learn skills such as persistence and problem solving.
Q: Quiet time. Make a time every day to have some peace and quiet. Engage in some active thinking, a little daydreaming, or just spend some down time simply being together. It’s a great way to let the brain make important connections.
R: Read. If there is one summer activity that is equal parts fun and education, it is reading. It doesn’t take science and research to know that reading keeps the mind active all summer long. It also helps develop vocabulary, and increases reading comprehension, which both pay off in the classroom.
S: Scrapbook. Turn summer memories into a hobby that encourages children to engage their brain by writing and drawing about the day’s activities. Cut pictures from magazines and newspapers and gather items such as feathers, or seashells to paste onto the pages for a colourful way to document summer fun. (This is different from “scrapbooking,” but that can be fun too!)
T: Travel. You don’t have to leave your city to experience the spirit of wanderlust. Visit your local tourist bureau and become a tourist in your own backyard. Head to the other side of town to visit a park that you’ve never been do. This is also a great opportunity for children to learn about the city they live in—major street names, directions, and local history.
U: University. For teens heading off to university in the fall, summer is the best time to prepare for what comes next. It’s also a time for summer jobs and, as the last summer of high school, it’s a major life milestone—it’s important to take advantage of this opportunity.
V: Vocabulary. Vocabulary is linked to school success—the greater a child’s vocabulary, the greater the reading comprehension skills are. The best way to develop vocabulary? Reading. Write down new words and definitions in the summer scrapbook.
W: Write. Despite the prevalence of keyboards, penmanship and handwriting are still very important! Personal handwriting style is always developing, so it’s critical to maintain skills. Journaling and writing in a scrapbook are a great ways to improve penmanship over the summer.
X: X Marks the Spot. Organize a fun scavenger hunt or a pirate-theme day and have a little bit of silly fun. Make crafts and invite neighbourhood friends. It doesn’t have to be a holiday or a birthday to celebrate the summer! It’s a great way to break up summer boredom.
Y: Yard Sale. Summer is the perfect time to hold a yard sale. It’s also a great opportunity to teach kids lessons about organization. Kids can help gather up clothing, books, and toys that they no longer use, and sort what they’ve gathered into categories. They can also help with money and counting.
Z: Go to the Zoo. Zoos are a great opportunity to learn something new about the animals we share the planet with. Spend some time before hand researching a favourite animal either online or at the library.
Read Part 1: A-M
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Or, 13 ways to make learning part of your summer…
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