How to Help Students Keep Learning Over Summer

Family Time, Learning Tips, Tips for Parents

School’s out for summer – but that doesn’t mean we should let students’ brains go slack until September, particularly if next year contains a round of crucial exams. 

In this Mentor Education blog, we explore some of the best ways to keep young minds active over the vacation.

Keep Students Learning Over Summer By… Making Reading Routine

Reading is one of the most effective – and enjoyable – ways to boost cognitive function, but it’s easy for this to slip over summer. Indeed, there’s a whole phenomenon known as the ‘summer slide’: the name given to the decline in reading and other key skills that often occurs over the break, and which causes teachers (and tutors!) to panic come autumn, because there’s lots of lost ground to make up. Incorporating a little bit of reading into your daily routine can prevent this from happening, ensuring that your child doesn’t have to work extra hard when school resumes in September. Here are some easy ways to make reading a fun, frequent activity:

  • Let your child choose which books to read. Studies have shown that it’s not necessarily what a student reads, but how often they read that’s important – and young people are much more likely to get stuck into a genre they really enjoy.
  • Set time aside specifically for reading. Running out of time is one of the most common excuses for not reading enough, but with a whole summer free of school ahead, there’s really no reason that a student should be short on time. If you can build it into your daily or weekly routine and make it a family activity – have at least one ‘screen-free’ evening per week that you spend reading, for instance – you’ll make it much easier for your child to meet their reading goals.
  • Get a library card. Reading needn’t be an expensive hobby – go to a library and you’ll find a world of books just waiting to be discovered. This will encourage your child to make their own choices (see point one) and turns the process of reading into a more exciting activity: they can spend time browsing through different genres, catch up on all the latest trends in young adult fiction, and pick out a plethora of books without spending a dime.
  • Dip into audiobooks. Okay, okay; this one may seem like a bit of a cheat, but audiobooks have their merits – honest! Whilst reading is different to listening, an audiobook can offer a pathway into literature for even the most disinterested of readers. It also can also boost vocabulary and enhance understanding.

Keep Students Learning Over Summer By… Encouraging a New Hobby

Whether it’s learning chess or trying out a magic trick, self-studying can be a wonderful way to get the synapses firing. Does your child fancy themselves to be the next Gordon Ramsay? Why not learn to cook together, and practise reading and measuring skills whilst preparing ingredients; alternatively, you could suggest that your child might like to watch informative videos on YouTube or read a detailed ‘how-to’ guide in order to get started with their chosen hobby.

Keep Students Learning Over Summer By… Getting Out Into Nature

Prise your budding student away from their screen and get them out into the great outdoors during the summer months. Live-action ‘treasure hunts’ are a fantastic, stimulating activity for the whole family to enjoy (for more info, check out our earlier blog post featuring geocaching), as is a bit of bird spotting (not that you have to stop with birds: why not go on a hunt for squirrels, frogs or bugs?). Pick up a local area guide and see how many different types of flora and fauna you can find. As a team, you can brush up on your map-reading skills whilst increasing your scientific and geographical knowledge.

Keep Students Learning Over Summer By… Holding a Movie Night

Again, this might seem like a bit of a cheat – but watching a film together can be a great exercise. Not only can a spot of telly time represent a bonding activity for your loved ones, but also it can be valuable way to introduce new concepts and information to the students in your family. Source material is important – in an ideal world, it’d be better to choose an acclaimed documentary over the latest rom com – but it’s not essential. Even a blockbuster can still offer a good learning opportunity if you take the time to unpick the film together afterwards. So settle down on the sofa, grab some popcorn, and enjoy: and afterwards, have a good chat with your child (or children) about their thoughts, feelings and impressions of the film, what the key themes were, and anything else they may have learned.

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