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Monday, June 1, 2015

5 Ways to Bridge the Achievement Gap Over Summer

Summer is a time of fun, sun, relaxing and family activities. Often it also becomes a time for putting away the books and forgetting about the school year routine.

According to a 2011 report from the RAND Corporation, by the end of the three-month summer break, most kids have forgotten about a month's worth of knowledge from the previous school year.

However, studies have shown that students who keep their brain cells active over the summer months are less likely to experience learning loss during that time.

According to some researchers, these students appear to be better prepared to begin the new school year on the right track.

School districts around the country are working with outside organizations to improve summer school for students and to curb summer learning loss in reading and math. (National Journal: The Reinvention of Summer School)

Apparently there are some things we can do to avoid the summer slump and bridge the achievement gap while students are out of school.

Here are five fun ways to keep your students' brains active over the summer:
  1. Plug in time for reading every day or two.
    This can be silent reading as well as reading aloud. Let your student read to you and then take a turn reading aloud yourself.

    Spend up to 30 minutes each day reading silently together as a family. You may want to celebrate a month of reading by taking a trip to your favorite book store or to the library to check out even more reading materials!
  2. Do some menu planning and shopping together. Let your student calculate how much the  total will be as you add items to the cart. Compare costs of similar items that are packaged in different quantities or sizes and find out which one is cheaper per unit.Plan recipes that need to be doubled to feed your family (or double the recipe so you have leftovers to freeze for another meal). Make a grocery list of the items you will need to purchase and help your student estimate their cost. Subtract any coupons or store discounts to find an approximate total before you shop. Students who are learning percents can also calculate the tax. After you get the receipt, have your child calculate the difference in the estimate and the actual cost.
  3. Solve puzzles together as a family. Try your hand at crosswords, mazes, word searches, logic puzzles, etc. Don't forget to include pencil puzzles and board games as well as games on your computer or phones. Make sure these are group efforts and not just solitary ways to avoid other family members.

    Have your student choose 3-4 words that describe the summer and then make up a word search incorporating these words. Copy the word search and let the creator make an answer key. Then let the other family members and friends try their hand at solving the puzzle. See who can find and circle the most words.
  4. Play games such as chess, Scrabble® or Yahtzee® as well as games using words and numbers (e.g., number Bingo). Get exercise with outdoor games, swimming, biking, hiking, fishing, and surfing or using a subskate or boogie board. Younger children can play "Sink or Float," guessing whether various items will sink or float and then placing them in a tub of water to find out who guessed correctly.
  5. Plant a garden — even a window garden or indoor herb garden. After digging a hole or finding a clay pot, add potting soil or garden soil and then seeds or a small plant. Vegetables or herbs are especially fun because they can be used in your menu planning. Let your child keep a calendar to show when the garden was first planted, which days it was watered, and when growth was first noticed. Take pictures of the various stages of growth and measure plant as it grows. Young children can help water the plant using an eye dropper so it doesn't get over watered.
Now that we've given you a few ideas, continuing brainstorming with your family. You may want to set up a lemonade stand, visit museums, go to the zoo—the summer enrichment possibilities are endless. 

Order Excel Math Summer School so your student can review the previous year's math concepts and get ready for fall.

See samples from Excel Math Summer School…

New to Excel Math?
Take a look at these ready-to-use lessons for Kindergarten through Sixth Grade plus lots of math resources and teacher helps at

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Higher Order Math Word Problems

Calming the Frenzy Over Fractions

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