originally published in the Chillicothe Gazette on May 2, 2021
by Sheena Brown
This school year was unconventional, to say the least. Though in-person learning was an option at our school, our family chose the virtual route. What we hoped would be a couple months turned into nine.
Nine long months of navigating virtual platforms, finding a workflow that worked for us all, and suffering weekly through sixth-grade math. I, for one, have learned A LOT! Time will tell if my kids feel the same. One thing I am sure we all agree on, it has not been ideal.
As the weather warms and we stare down a manageable number of modules left to complete, I feel an excitement for Summer not known since my own days in school. Yet, amidst the giddiness for nights catching fireflies and long afternoons floating in sparkling pools, I know that summer break will not be a break for me. As a parent, especially a parent this year, I am worried about my children backsliding. The fear is more solid this summer since I know their teacher so personally and if it wasn’t for Google and YouTube, she would have hung it up nine months ago!
Thankfully for me, and for you if you find yourself in a similar predicament, there are ways to combat the dreaded “summer slide.” Fun ways. Ways that may not even feel like learning if you present them just right.
1. Have conversations. Maybe your house is different, but no one around here is kicked back pondering the Big Bang or casually mulling over quantum physics. However, there is real value in simply talking to each other. The content, it turns out, isn’t as important as the act itself. So even just talking about the weather counts.
2. Do real world math. How much stain to seal a deck? How many cups of flour to bake a dozen cookies? How far is it to the store and how long will it take to get there? Anything that gets the old gears grinding is good!
3. Engage in short bursts of skill review every day. A math problem, a crossword puzzle, even brainteasers. Little chunks of learning, especially when it’s a family affair, can really add up.
4. Write. Write in a journal, help write a grocery list, write a story, or write letters in the mud with a stick. Putting utensil to whatever is a great way to be creative, practice skills and possibly find a new passion all at once.
5. READ. No matter how much research I did, the most repeated and revered piece of advice for keeping minds sharp is to read! This may seem too simple or possibly made up because I work for the library, but it’s true and its importance cannot be overstated! Encourage kids to read alone, read together, read aloud, just read!
If you’re not sure what to read, check out a prepackaged Mystery Bag handpicked by our amazing Youth Services staff. Or visit crcpl.org to use our Book Match Service where we’ll match you with the story of your dreams.
Hopefully these suggestions, along with the super cool Bookworm events happening at the Library (also listed on our website) will keep my kids, and yours, learning all summer long.
Sheena Brown is a horrible virtual schoolteacher and part-time clerk at the Main Library.