It is estimated that around 1 in 3 children suffer from ‘unlearning’ over the summer holidays and can fall behind by as much as 2 – 4 points.
It’s fairly logical I suppose: in primary schools most children will go from daily phonics to none, from reading every day to less engagement with books (not all children of course) and not every child will be fortunate enough to experience the new learning opportunities that a holiday brings: planning for travel, talking and playing in a new environment etc.
I’m not necessarily advocating shorter school holidays – I was a teacher too and understand the need for a good rest - but maybe there are things that we can support some parents with to lessen the possibility of lost learning?
Primary school children and their families could benefit enormously if the school were open for some of the summer: access to the IT suite, fun reading clubs and family workshops on a variety of interesting topics. Secondary schools are running summer schools but how many are specifically for literacy/numeracy is not really known now.
Passing on a few simple ideas for play and learning at home during the summer break can help lessen that potential loss of learning. Not ‘school’ learning – just fun learning.
Why not give (or sell?)each child a thinking journal – a place for them to draw and write, to tell the ‘story’ of interesting things they see, hear, smell and touch during the holidays. Or a larger scrapbook? Entice them with a family celebration event in September where all that ‘learning’ will be shared.
Journal entries could include trees, plants, insects/butterfly pictures (or photos), a record of the weather for a week, a cartoon of a family day out- or a BBQ in the garden, how and when they went on journeys and how long it took – maybe including a map. Counting post boxes or red cars. Rubbings of stones, bark, shells or other textures in their environment.
Making up their own quizzes - drawing a dot to dot or designing a small crossword for someone else to find do.
Try and encourage parents to invest in a writing toolbox – mentioned in this previous blog. http://www.thinkingchild.org.uk/motivating-children-to-write-why-not-try-writing-toolboxes/
You can put one together for around £10. Great value for money as children are encouraged to take it with them and be the ‘roving reporter’ in the family.
And of course to get children playing outdoors (and not stuck playing computer games) as often as possible. Playing without adults is necessary but not always possible (sad but true) so why not offer a few ideas to get them going:
A sound trail what can you hear in various places outdoors? Draw/write a sound map for other people to use.
Scavenger hunts – find things beginning with… or make a phonics/ spelling trail for a younger child to follow
Make models out of junk materials, design and make some silly hats out of paper and magazines – or challenge children to make a chair out of cardboard and paper (one that will hold their weight)
Play some old fashioned games: Hopscotch, skipping with songs and rhymes, marbles, jacks, ball bouncing games requiring counting and rule making and Simon Says etc.
Get children to make up their own games from a bag of random objects: e.g., a stick, a scarf, dice, five stones and a wooden spoon.
Read books to each other outdoors – whilst having a picnic on a hot sunny day: A time to ‘wallow’ in beautiful picture books after a browse in the library.
Some suggestions in this blog can be adapted for families to do: http://www.thinkingchild.org.uk/learning-alfresco-ideas-for-teaching-in-the-school-grounds/
There’s so much to do to limit the lost learning – it just takes a few starter ideas perhaps?
There are also some more ideas for quick fun challenges in Let’s Think Homework and the activity cards for families: