Parenting Matters: Summer goes fast


Whether you have an elementary child or one who is going to be starting in the fall, you need to be thinking about getting him ready. Children who do nothing academically over the summer months forget a great deal of what they need to know to succeed in school. Parents can be key in making sure that doesn't happen.

Certainly summertime should have lots of fun time. Make sure your child gets plenty of time in the sun (if the sun cooperates) and lots of physical exercise over the coming weeks. But also make sure that reading is a part of the fun things of summer. The library has some great programs your child can participate in but at the very least it has some great books for him to read. Make going to the library a regular visit over the summer. 

But beyond checking out a book, it is important to make sure that reading the book is a high priority. At the very least you can have him talk about what he is reading and you can learn what page he is on. 

You also can spend some time reading together, which is an even better way to read. Take turns reading and then you both really can get into it.

After he has read some part or all of the book, have him write about it. Writing is an important skill that a child needs to maintain. Having you read what he has written helps you understand what help he needs with his reading. 

Does he use variety in his sentences? How is his spelling? Do the paragraphs he writes have a reason to be there or does he just start new paragraphs that aren't any different from the previous ones? Is his writing clear? Do you understand what the story is all about from what he has written? Make sure he doesn't have sentences that just go on and on and even make sure that they start with different words. 

You don't have to be an English teacher to understand what needs to go into your child's writing.

Math is certainly a skill that slips away in the summer. Hopefully you saved some of his papers from the past school year so you can give him some problems at his level. You could at least give him a quick timed test on his math facts … addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 

See if you do it several times during the week if he can get fast and faster.

If you have a computer, try to find a typing program and get him to begin to learn the keyboard. This is a skill he needs in this day and age. If he learns it, he will be faster when September comes than if you ignore it. Give him a goal but have him do at least 10 minutes each day.

Time him as he runs a specific course to see if he can increase his speed. You also could have him do some specific exercise that will help him become more fit than before.

Have him have a friend come over. You don't want to forget the social side of summer. When he becomes a good friend to another person it makes a difference in his school success and his life success.

Have him help you with dinner. Maybe his strength is being a chef. No matter what, we all need to learn how to cook.

Make sure he knows how much you love him. He needs to hear this message all year long. 

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and director of the Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. Reach Martin at or at 681-2250.
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