Keeping Your Students Engaged During the Summer: Tips & Resources
As teachers we know that our students lose some reading and math skills over the summer break. We also know that it is important for kids to have some fun and enjoy their breaks from school. Finding a balance between allowing them some fun and keeping them learning is going to help everyone when the next school year begins.
Just how much do they really lose? According to Ron Fairchild, a founder of the Smarter Learning Group and former CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, the proof is in the research. He says,
“Basically everyone would expect performance to suffer without regular practice, and what research shows is that all kids, regardless of their income level of their family, experience over two months of setback in math computation skills during the elementary school grades, and low-income kids lose over two months of reading performance each and every summer of their elementary school years, while middle-income kids typically stagnate or experience a slight gain in reading performance.
So what the impact of that is, significant growth in the achievement gap in reading for kids based on income, so that by the time they reach fifth grade, the summer losses accumulate to a point where kids are close to two years behind in reading performance based on the impact of summer.”
That is a astounding! As a classroom teacher, I know firsthand that this loss of knowledge embarrasses some students and frustrates others. Here are some tips to help keep your students engaged during the summer months.
Tip #1: Tell your students to use the internet
The internet has some incredible resources and a lot of them are free. There are websites with academic games, printables, and just ideas to get the learning fun started! Some websites I suggest are:
Geared toward elementary level students and includes several academic games, interactive books, videos, and an entire section for summer activities.
Includes thousands of teacher resources (some are free), teaching tips, education forums, and a document builder. There are so many great resources, you could spend days looking through it all.
One example of the what Teachers Notebook has to offer are these Word Endings (-ed, -ing) ($5.00). It includes 2 posters (-ed and -ing), 2 art activities, and 4 games.
IXL is strictly math skills for Pre-K through 8th grade students. They are working on more advanced math skills so keep checking back. The math skills are broken down by grade level and individual skills. It is great for practicing math and the students can go up or move down if they need to.
Storybird is for all ages and focuses on reading and writing. Students can start writing a story by using a unique picture prompt. They can also read other stories and work on stories together. If you create student accounts, you can check their progress and comment on any work they have done.
Tip #2: Get your students excited about reading and writing
Summer is a great time for students to read and write just for the fun of it. No need to give assignments over the summer, but you could email your former or upcoming students and give them some project ideas to work on over the summer.
It is exciting and fun for your students to receive an email from you but be sure to tell them to write you back and let you know how their summer “projects” are going. If you don’t think your students would be motivated to do any of this, then sweeten the deal by offering prizes (certificates, stickers, pencils) for whomever participates. You could give these out the first week back to school.
Here are some project ideas to tell your students about:
- Read a story and perform a puppet show or play using characters from the story
- Keep a daily writing journal of what you do over the summer-it’s fun to look back and see what went on
- Go to the public library and see what programs they have available for the summer-many offer rewards for summer reading
- Read or write on a blanket under shady tree
I hope these tips have helped you see the many ways for students to still have a fun summer without losing so much learning from the previous year.
Enjoy your summer!