By Teresa Davenport, PhD, Doll & Associates
It’s that time of the year-spring is here, and children are eager for school to let out for the summer!
Summer break is typically a time for children to relax and take advantage of opportunities not available to them throughout the year. However, too much free time can be overwhelming and lead to boredom and behavioral problems.
Some careful consideration and planning can help maximize your child’s social and academic development over summer break. Staying Active Ensuring your child is active and engaged with others during summer break is the best ways to increase their knowledge and social skills. Avoid allowing your child too much “screen time” – time spent in front of a television, computer or with other electronic devices.The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends children spend no more than two hours a day in front of screens and when they do use computers and television, the programming should be high quality. Instead of spending time in front of a computer or television, encourage your child to participate in activities which allow them to grow their creative skills or encourage their social and emotional development.
Parents can coordinate social activities with other parents who have children around their age. Such shared activities help children learn a variety of new skills in areas of interest to them, and also allow opportunities for social skills development. Each parent can take a turn designing a week’s worth of activities for the group to do. For example, if one parent has an interest in art, that week the children could do a variety of art-related activities such as visiting art museums, research famous artists, learn about art in another culture, participate in several art activities, and at the end of the week have a “gallery” show for their parents.
Most children enjoy and respond well to routines and schedules. Having a clearly written schedule for each day will help children know what is expected of them and avoid behavioral problems. Schedule free time or preferred activities after the completion of chores and use that time to motivate your child to complete their chores.
Resist the temptation to allow your children to alter their sleeping habits during the summer because they do not have school. Consistent, adequate sleep is important for proper health and can help reduce existing mental health problems.
Take advantage of nearby museums or businesses that offer tours. Prior to continued from previous page visiting the museums or businesses, explore with your child any ways in which information they have recently studied in school may relate to their upcoming experiences. For example, many factories use mathematical operations in their daily operations – seeing mathematics in action can help motivate students who otherwise dislike math.
Consider enrolling your child in a summer program, such as those offered through the Boys and Girls Club of Fond du Lac. Scholarships are available for families in need. For more information, contact the Boys and Girls Club at (920) 924-0530 or go to http://www. kidsclubfdl.org/summerprograminfo. html. The Fond du Lac Recreation Department also offers numerous programs. For more information, contact the Fond du Lac Recreation Department at 920-929-2885 or go to http://www.fdlrecdept.com/. Academic Skills
Many parents and teachers report that children lose academic skills during the summer months. However, learning does not have to stop just because school is not in session. There are numerous informal educational opportunities available during summer months. For example, a trip to the beach can be an excellent opportunity to learn about tides, weather, sea creatures, the environment, geography and many more topics. Check out books from your local library about beaches. When you are at the beach, a scavenger hunt for shells, rocks and plants can help make connections between children’s experiences and what they have learned before arriving at the beach.
Talk to your children’s current teachers to get a summary of material covered over the past year and review those skills with your children during the summer. Similarly, talk to the teacher your children will have next year to determine what your children will be starting with the next year and how best to prepare them. Targeting these skills does not need to be formal; for example, if your child has worked on fractions the last year, discuss fractions while using measuring cups when baking.
Older children and adolescents may choose to use summer vacation as an opportunity to learn more about occupations they may be interested in. Parents may be able to help set up opportunities for adolescents to shadow people in professions they may be interested in. Volunteering may also offer adolescents a similar opportunity; for example, students who are interested in working with animals may explore options for volunteering at the Humane Society. High school sophomores and juniors who are interested in going on to college or vocational school can research majors and the schools they are interested in attending. The Fond du Lac Public School District offers several summer school classes from June 13 to July 3 which are both fun and educational. To obtain a list of the classes offered through the school district, visit www.fonddulac.k12. wi.us for a listing of classes or call (920) 929-2900.