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Keeping kids stimulated all summer can help prevent the summer learning slide

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Posted: Monday, June 30, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:35 am, Sat Jul 19, 2014.

(BPT) - For most kids, the final school bell signals a break from learning and a focus on summer fun, but for parents it often means an uphill battle to beat the “summer slide” in their child’s learning. Significant knowledge and skills gained during the previous school year can be lost if children don’t participate in enrichment and learning activities during summer break.

In fact, children run the risk of losing newly learned Common Core curriculum skills they developed during the year.

The good news for parents who are concerned about the summer slide is that several Common Core teachings can be easily adapted from the classroom to fun summer projects conducted at home and in the community.

“The summer slide can mean a child may spend the first two months of the new school year playing catchup instead of learning new material,” says Dr. Ashley Norris, assistant dean of the College of Education at University of Phoenix. “Parents need to plan a balanced mix of activities for their children during the summer that not only include sports and extracurricular activities, but learning activities that emphasize math and reading skills.”

Norris, who prepares prospective and current teachers to address dynamics in schools and the classroom, recommends parents incorporate Common Core themes into the summer curriculum they plan for their children. Here are six fun, educational activities that can help kids avoid the summer slide and also provide parents with opportunities to connect with their children.

1. Turn everyday activities into learning opportunities

According to a recent University of Phoenix College of Education survey, 38 percent of teachers believe Common Core curriculum ties learning to real-world scenarios. Errands are an easy way to engage children in reading and math skills. Consider having your child help make the grocery list, go shopping with you and practice adding up the bill and calculating the tax.

2. Seek inspiration from community events and activities

Visit the farmers market to learn about vegetables and teach the importance of healthy eating. Attend concerts and then ask your child to research his favorite musical instruments. Head to the local nature center to learn about native plants and then return home and ask the kids to draw what they saw.

3. Embrace technology and create interactive projects and activities

Apps and websites such as Pinterest are making Common Core projects available for parents to set up at home. Pinterest has new math and reading challenges that are posted daily. You can also search for Common Core apps developed by schools across the country combining video games with math and science skills.

4. Focus on core competencies

Look for activities that emphasize core skills such as math and reading. Creating a cooking project is one of the best ways to integrate these skills as children are required to follow directions of a recipe and learn about cooking elements such as time, temperature and measuring ingredients.

5. Balance academic and social engagement

Look for activities or summer camps that not only promote social skill development, but allow for knowledge in specific content areas. Science and technology camps provide hands-on learning projects such as bridge building, mouse-trap cars or the construction of robots. Many science museums offer home projects on their websites.

6. Plan a trip to the library

Common Core requires students to conduct in-depth research from multiple sources and then discuss their findings with peers. Families can do similar activities throughout the summer. Each family member can search for information on a chosen topic then set a time to gather and discuss the findings, which research tools were used and if more information is available. Make it a game by voting for the family member who found the most interesting or unique fact.

If you keep them engaged during the summer break, your children can pick up right where they left off when the school bell rings in the fall.

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What was the biggest local story of 2014?

It has been an eventful year in Lodi, from the antics of a wild turkey named Tom Kettleman to the announced closure of the General Mills plant. What do you see as the biggest story of the year?

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