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How to Help Your Elementary Schooler Stay on Top of His School Skills Over the Summer

So, summer vacation is upon us. And, no doubt, your child’s teacher is hoping he’ll keep practicing all the skills he’s learned this year even though he’s not in school. And your child, no doubt, is hoping he’ll never have to do another school assignment for as long as he lives. Well, as a former teacher I can tell you, your kids should keep practicing their school skills over the summer. But it doesn’t have to be boring. Here’s what to do.

1. Read. Anything.

Kids who struggle with reading probably aren’t going to feel very motivated to settle down with a book at any point during the summer. Why would they? There’s no reading log to fill in, no comprehension questions to answer for a grade. If reading is a necessary evil to them, they’re definitely not going to do it any more than they have to. The problem is that any gains he made during the school year will be significantly reduced if your child spends the entire summer without reading a single word. But that doesn’t mean you have to force him to read either. There are tons of things to read that aren’t books, and tons of ways to read them that aren’t sitting still in a chair. Have him read the directions for the bottle rocket he really wants to try out, or the new board game he’s eager to learn. He’ll be motivated to read things like that because understanding the directions is the way to access the fun activity. Hand him the grocery list at the grocery store and put him in charge of making sure you have everything you came for. Have him read the guidebook when you’re on vacation and let him impress you with everything he knows about each place you stop. Let him read the menu at restaurants and choose his own meal. You get the idea. He doesn’t need to read a novel, or a biography, or the newspaper, or whatever, if he doesn’t want to. He just needs to read words and understand them. Any words at all. I’m serious.