How much do you supplement/support academic skills over the summer? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 07-16-2012, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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DS is 6 (nearly 7) and going into 2nd grade.  As this is my first summer home with him, I am striving to be productive yet allow him some freedom and spontaneity.


How much are you "working" with your similar-age child(ren) in the summer?  Are you doing math workbooks, focusing on reading every day, etc., are you more of a free-time mindset, or somewhere in between?  What does your daily schedule look like?


DS is not a self-motivated kid when it comes to schoolwork.  He has a 5-star imagination, a strong memory, and is clever, but he resists hard work.  Because of that, I have difficulty knowing when to encourage him and when to follow his lead on the pace  He desperately wants and needs to play freely, both alone and with peers, so much time has been set aside for exactly that. Still, I want him to be ready for school in the fall, and he's in dual language immersion, so practice and exposure are important.


Thanks in advance for sharing any stories/advice.  I'm especially interested to hear from at-home parents since this format is new to us.  I appreciate your input. 

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#2 of 14 Old 07-16-2012, 10:50 PM
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I try to get a little in, but in mellow ways that don't feel schooly. For a child that age, being involved in the summer reading program and visiting the library every week can be very helpful. I made my kids do their own writing for summer reading program, and writing down their book titles was about the only writing they did in the summer -- but a lot of kids that age return to school reversing letters because they've written nothing over the summer. I like board games for math practice rather than workbooks.

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#3 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 08:19 AM
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My kids are older now (11 and 15.) In the summer, when they were younger, they really enjoyed camps and our county has a rich variety of them... zoo, aquarium, science, theatre, art, ect. They'd do 2 or 3 a summer and it would sort of shape what the kids were interested in for all the time surrounding them. I know when they were little we did a lot of kitchen science experiments and cooking for fun. I read with them (even if they were fluent readers themselves.) We would take a lot of day trips like to the museums on free day, tidepooling, nature hikes, free library programs, pool, zoo, various parks. The intention wasn't learning... it was just affordable stuff to do that would keep us moving, give us some entertainment and conversation. The nice side-effect was that it kept the kids active learners and often using their skills (because they'd always want to read about some animal we saw or want to research a painter they liked, write a letter to the ranger,  ect.)


The only workbooks we ever did in the summer were "handwriting without tears." DD begged to learn cursive at 6 and so she did that one summer. DS really struggled with penmanship in the early years (and it's still not great) and so taking 3 months off is never a good idea. I tried to get a pencil in his hand at least once a week even if it were just to write my grocery list. 


This summer, I am asking the kids to speak in Spanish once in awhile... DS because he gained fluency in immersion school and I don't want him to lose it, DD because she is taking college Spanish in the fall and she needs to keep her emergent skills sharp. DS is doing a cursive program because it's yet to be taught in his school (he's going into 7th grade) and I just feel it's a skill he should have a basic understanding of.


Our summer schedule at your child's age was usually this... morning trip somewhere, relaxed outdoor lunch (whatever we packed,) quiet afternoons at home doing whatever they felt like doing, make dinner and clean up in the evenings... maybe a movie or TV show before bed. Like I said, a couple of those weeks would involve day long camps and we'd always throw in an occasional "jammy all day" events lol.

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#4 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 08:24 AM
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My ds (going into 3rd) is a very strong reader and likes to read for fun so I don't worry about that. He had a couple math concepts he was struggling with, and his school is a STEM school with a lot of activities focused on that, so he's doing Mathnasium this summer twice a week for an hour.


In the morning he does about 30min. of work. I have him do a lesson on his Rosetta Stone (if it's very long or he's struggling a lot we break a lesson up into 2-3 days), and practice in his cursive workbook; his hand tires quickly when writing so I'm hoping knowing cursive will help with that; he's also left-handed so I bought him a cursive workbook for left-handed writers. We try to fit in a board game once a week but we're actually busy enough (ds' gymnastics, dd's dance, social skills group [now over], swim lessons, going to the pool) that that doesn't always happen. Ds also doesn't do well without structure and 4th of July week when most of our activities were closed was a difficult one for us.


Dd is going into 1st and I think I should be doing more there with the reading and practicing her writing a bit.

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#5 of 14 Old 07-17-2012, 03:31 PM
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DS is going into first grade. Our supplementation isn't set in stone. Mostly it's based on the weather. LOL

If it's a nice day, we take advantage of that and be outdoors as much as we can.

I don't worry about reading because he loves reading so much, he can read for hours a day.

Rainy days are reserved for workbooks. Right now I just have a hand writing workbook for him and usually does 5-10 pages at a time. And we do Singapore Math in which he does a chapter at a time.

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#6 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 09:32 AM
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NO workbooks. My kids would kill me if I tried that. 


I do a few math questions incorporated into everyday life like while baking or shopping, but other than that we just play, go to camp (dance and art), and go to museums. They both like to read so no issues there. My dd2 is going into 3rd grade and has always been an avid reader even before she knew how. She has always loved to look at magazines and books. Dd1 was a reluctant reader, but always loved books and magazines for the pictures. She just didn't want to be pushed to read. It eventually clicked for her and she was off and running. She loves science (natural science) and so we watch a few documentaries for fun and go to the science museums for fun, but we definitely don't do workbooks. 


They're both smart and dd2 in particular is looking forward to being more challenged in 3rd grade. She found 2nd grade a little boring. Our gifted program starts in 3rd so we will look at that for her. 


Dd1 will be going to an alternative arts/environmentally focused charter for middle school next year. 


I might have them both review some multiplication concepts before school starts. Dd2 is looking forward to doing multiplication in school next year. is a great free multiplication game. My kids also like and a couple of other websites. We haven't done them this summer, but I might suggest that at some point. If I suggested workbooks they'd look at me like I suggested they clean their rooms — the horror!

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#7 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 09:44 AM
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My kids are on the young end-- DS1 will be going into 1st grade and DS2 into 4K next year. With DS1 I'm only trying to encourage him to read. He has workbooks that he thinks are "fun" so he does them sometimes. I'm trying to get DS2 interested in reading, but right now he just wants to play, and that's fine by me. I'm more trying to do stuff with them that we usually can't fit in during the school year, like going on nature walks, the children's museum, etc.


When I was a kid I don't remember my parents trying to keep my brain in school-mode during the summer. However, I participated in the summer program at the library which was basically reading as many books as you can, and answering a few questions about them to earn a sticker! Pretty low-key.

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#8 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 10:01 AM
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My DD is going into first grade this fall.  Honestly, the only thing that we have focused on is reading (she had a sudden explosion in reading skills toward the end of kindergarten and we want to keep on track with that).  My philosophy right now is that DD works hard all school year and I just want her to have a few months of pure fun/no pressure.  She is in a day camp this summer for seven weeks and they swim, hike, play every day.  They take trips to science and history museums and have special classes in cooking, art, etc.  If our circumstances were different (either DH and I were home and DD wasn't in camp), we would probably do much the same thing.  The other thing (besides reading) that we focus on is piano.  DD's piano teacher is out of town for the summer but we continue to work on her scales, etc. 

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#9 of 14 Old 07-18-2012, 01:26 PM
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This summer my dd is doing math tutoring twice a week because she really needs it, they want to evaluate for an learning disability when school starts so I am trying to get her as caught up as possible so we can avoid that. It seems to be working. Typically though I don't do anything beyond letting her stay up as late as she wants as long as she is reading after 9:00. She typically stays up until 10 or 10:15 because she is tired after that. We also participate in the library summer reading program and that is very motivating for her. I really try to keep the summer as free and open as possible because she gets enough of academics during the school year.
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#10 of 14 Old 07-19-2012, 06:00 AM
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This year my kids are doing one of those summer books. Ours is Summer Express I think? It's made as a bridge between grades. This is the first year I have ever had them do seat work. One of my kids has ADHD and everyone thought going the whole summer with know seat work would be a disaster come fall. It's actually working out very well. They have one page front/back a day and I offer a prize at the end of the week. The prizes vary and I don't tell them what it will be before hand. Adds to the novelty. heehee. We also practice math facts with a "Whack a Math" app (very cool app!!), visit the library every week or two, and do a lot of nature/science exploration. My middle child isn't huge on reading, so I offered him the option of reading everyday or doing a lesson in the HOP master reader. So far the HOP has been a hit....I'm hoping if his reading skills catch up to his interest level he will enjoy reading more.....

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#11 of 14 Old 07-19-2012, 06:27 AM
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DD plays her piano daily and did the summer reading program at two libraries. That's it. The rest is fun at the barn and the pool. coolshine.gif

Me afro.jpg reading.gif Wife and Mom to modifiedartist.gif cat.gifdog2.gif.
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#12 of 14 Old 07-20-2012, 10:40 PM
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nothing. never. summer is downtime unless she needed help. 


why review when the first whole month is all review at chool. 


its hard enough to get my night owl to go back to school time bed time. 

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#13 of 14 Old 07-24-2012, 03:58 PM
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My DD is going into 5th grade and my DSes are going into 4th.  We don't "work on" anything per se, but if they want screen time on a weekday they must do a worksheet page (it's one of those summer bridge type workbooks so it's almost all review).  It's not to keep up their skills so much as to keep the rhythm/habit of "Oh, every day I do something like this".  I found that for my DD transitioning to homework after 2 months off was too much for her.  She doesn't LIKE doing the workbooks (esp. after having an awesome teacher this past year who had fun and interesting homework--for real!) but I also think it's important at my kids ages to understand that sometimes the things you have to do for school (or anything else for practice) are not always fun but sometimes you just need to power through it and get it done.  All of my kids are bright, my DSes are both internally motivated but my DD is not and to be blunt I feel I really effed up by letting her do whatever she wanted because she could (initially) compensate for it.  Now we're having to deal with laziness and learning staying power--together.  (I was a coasting gifted kid who frankly never ran into problems bullshitting or flying by the seat of my pants until I entered the workforce.  I'd like to spare her that pain, esp. since she does not have a gift for bullshitting or flying by the seat of her pants or charming adults.  So, we're learning together how to tolerate boring shit that sometimes you have to do to accomplish a larger task.)


We are all going to work on our times tables in August.  I am going back to school in the fall so the kids are going to help me learn instant recall math facts (never learned those, since I could compensate) and we're all going to help each other improve by mutual agreement and repetition.


My kids have tons of downtime during the summer.  I really couldn't care less if they decided to never do a worksheet and forgo weekday screen time--it's pretty short most times anyway because we're heading out to the pool for the afternoon or whatever.  :)  However, I am okay with giving them choices, so that's what I do.

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#14 of 14 Old 07-25-2012, 02:01 PM
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My daughter is only six and going into first, but I think it's important not to lose ground on what she learned in kindergarten.  Also, it seems like a lot of kids struggle with endurance and focus, so if she's practicing all those skills all summer, the fall won't come as such a shock.  Her handwriting and reading have both improved by huge leaps since the end of the school year.  She does ask for workbooks and work sheets so...hey, why not.  If nothing else, she's sitting still and staying focused.


We also  make a point of following up on her interests - my husband started watching Fetch With Ruff Ruffman and WildKrats with her so now we're spending a lot of time following up on her questions at the library (she has books on the periodic table, the electromagnetic spectrum, various types of snakes, the Great Wall, pyramids, etc).  She draws pictures and writes down what she remembers - it's really cool to see what details she's focused on.  I don't really direct her in this, but I do like reading it later and hearing what she has to say about her drawings.


She also journals - writing and drawing - every day.


Mostly, I want her to know that practice is a good thing and if you have an interest in something, FOLLOW IT!  See where it goes!


We have had plenty of time for play dates, sleep overs, parks, activities, field trips, baking, crafts, games, games, games and just doing not a darn thing.  If I had to fight with her and MAKE her journal or set up projects and FORCE her to follow through, I might feel totally different but as long as she wants to practice and wants to learn new things, I'm certainly not going to turn her down.

I just reread this and it sounds a lot more directed and organized than we really are. She's not spending hours a day on workbooks, I promise.

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