Part of our Cash in on Learning Series by Richard M. Cash, Ed.D. Click to read other Cash in on Learning posts.
As the school year winds down, students, parents, and teachers are preparing for a bit of a break from the rush of the school year. One concern, however, in the break from school is the break from learning, or the possible summer learning slump.
Here are five tips to help kids, and you, keep learning and avoid the summer slide. These tips are for students, parents, and teachers.
- Read every day. No matter if you read the newspaper, blogs, comic books, chapter books, or beach-worthy romance novels, everyone should read something for at least 20 minutes per day. For early readers or those who struggle, it’s okay to read along with an audio version of the text, or have someone read the text to you.
- Learn something new. Summer is a great time to learn something that is not a requirement or an expectation. This is a time to learn how to play the guitar or mandolin, learn to speak a new language such as American Sign Language or Swahili, learn to crochet or sew (even learn to sew on a button or patch a seam) or learn to paint or do chalk art. Try something new, something out of the ordinary. Most importantly, document the process of your learning. Highlight the struggles and successes. Let others know how it felt to overcome a challenge. Documenting learning is a powerful tool for teachers to use with their incoming students to show that learning, while sometimes difficult, can be rewarding as long as you put forth effort.
- Volunteer your time. Set aside time during your summer to give back to the community or help others. Whether it’s mowing a neighbor’s lawn, assisting at a community center, or helping out at the local library, volunteering your time is a great way to give back to your community. It’s also a way to get to know others, learn how to build empathy, and get a feeling of fulfillment by building a better community. You may also learn a new skill or find a new career path.
- Exercise every day. A healthy mind needs a healthy body. Summer is the time to get out and enjoy the environment, build your skills in a sport or activity, and exercise your body. It’s a great time to train your body to stretch, breathe, run, walk, or bike. If you are into toning your muscles, do outside exercises such as calisthenics or find a park that has exercise equipment (with “how to use” directions). Every person, based on physical ability, should raise their heart rate (in a good way) for at least 20 minutes each day. Remember to eat properly as well. Even though this time of year is full of celebrations, cookouts, parties, and fair going, avoid overeating delicious summertime foods—everything in moderation!
- Learn to relax. During the school year, things happen so fast that we often lose the knack for relaxing or unwinding. Students go through a rush at the end of the school year with all the testing. Teachers frantically pack up their classrooms in preparation for cleaning or moving rooms or schools. Parents rush around all school year taking children to and from activities or keeping family life organized. The coming months of summer will be a good time to practice relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, yoga, or visualization. Spend at least 20 minutes every day taking time to relax. Remember these techniques for your return to the routine of school.
As a resident of Minnesota, where the winter can be long and harsh, I look forward to summertime. I try to spend as much time as possible outside, reacquainting myself with my local community and the wonders of nature. I can combine this desire for outside time with my need to keep up my learning. Students, families, and you can do the same by following the five tips above. Have a wonderful summer!
I’d love to hear your ideas for making summer a productive and enjoyable time for learning and relaxation.
Richard M. Cash, Ed.D., writes the monthly Cash in on Learning blog posts for Free Spirit. He has given hundreds of workshops, presentations, and staff development sessions throughout the United States and internationally.
Free Spirit books by Richard Cash:
We welcome your comments and suggestions. Share your comments, stories, and ideas below, or contact us. All comments will be approved before posting, and are subject to our comment and privacy policies.