Months have flown by in lockdown and homeschooling has taken place in many forms. Now we are heading for Summer Holidays and the possibility of returning to school in September we still need to focus on your children’s education.
There are some students who will read plenty of books and magazines, visit places of interest or engage with nature and the countryside but sadly this is becoming less and less the ‘norm’. I have parents who have told me that their child will not want to study/ participate in extra tuition over the summer holidays, they want to relax!
Experience and research show that for most students the long summer break results in their attainment dropping so that when they return to school in September they have not stood still in their attainment, they have actually lost some of the skills they had acquired the previous year. The loss in attainment can be anywhere from 2-6 months. When I taught in the classroom I had the privilege of teaching the same group of children for two consecutive years and I witnessed first hand this loss of learning; for the many students who had done little or no learning in the summer, we spent the first half term getting their skills back to where they had been at the end of June.
Think back to a time when you were learning something new. One of the most significant skills I had to acquire was learning to drive. What happened if whilst I was learning the skill I didn’t drive for 10 weeks? I became rusty and made silly errors. Not long after I passed my driving test, whilst I was still learning the skills associated with driving, I spent 3 months in India; consequently, I did not drive at all, (if you have experienced the roads in India, you would not be tempted to drive there). On my return to the UK I remember my apprehension about driving. This is not too dissimilar to children’s learning achievements. If they take a prolonged break from learning they will become rusty. For children who find learning difficult or who are reluctant learners they will feel apprehensive about returning to school in September.
What can we do to help?
Ensure that children engage in learning tasks in the holidays and make them fun. Encourage them to continue with reading, spelling, tables and Maths activities.
For parents and students who feel that a professional private tutor would be of benefit to ensuring the student does not lose ground in their learning over the Summer Holidays we at Kip McGrath Scunthorpe are running Summer School in August for students aged 6-18. We offer a wide range of programmes and would be happy to discuss your requirements.
Make learning fun. Baking a cake can incorporate measuring ingredients (Maths) and following instructions (English). Take a walk in the countryside and see how many trees you can identify or which mini beasts you can find. Encourage your child to keep a diary of key events in their holidays; they could include photographs to enhance this. If you go to the supermarket ask children to add up the cost of items, practice rounding or calculate change. There is a range of Science kits available online. Children seem to be getting less hands-on Science in school so this is an area that parents could work on in the summer holidays.
Whilst I believe that children do need to rest and recharge their batteries in the Summer, many have taken exams and are tired, as an Educationalist I know that the long Summer break will result in a loss of skills for many of our students. The tradition of schools breaking up for six weeks in the Summer began when Britain was a large agricultural community and was intended to allow the children to work on the farm and assist in getting in the harvest. Most of our children do not engage in harvesting, though we have some students who do, and the long summer break does not benefit them. Aside from the loss of learning the children are bored after the first 2-3 weeks.
So for students who are reading this, enjoy your Summer break but find ways to continue your learning. For parents, look for creative ways to ensure your children stay ahead in their learning despite the long gap in their formal education. Learning is a life long skill and needs to be consolidated outside of the classroom.