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The lazy days of summer are right around the corner and for most students it means trading in books and calculators for beach towels and video games. But, neglecting numbers and novels often leads to the dreaded summer brain drain. The result? A sharp decline in students’ academic skills, and a widening of the achievement gap. According to various studies, students typically lose up to two months of learning during the summer and instructors spend the first couple of months teaching what was learned last school year rather than introducing new concepts. To keep children from taking a step back in education, keeping their minds stimulated is crucial as we head into the summer months. Here are a few tips from Eye Level, a global leader in supplemental education, to keep their skills fresh while still promoting a fun-filled summer break:
Learn at the library: Instead of beating the heat at the movies or the mall, head to the local library. From book clubs and storytimes, to poetry competitions and drawing contests, community libraries often host a number of fun activities and events for children of all ages and learning levels.
Surround your child with the proper tools. Whether your child is fascinated by reading, science, music or the arts, when possible, give them access to the educational tools and apps that will nurture those interests at home. Surround them with books on their favorite subject, art supplies to fuel their creativity, or stock up on flashcards, word searches or crossword puzzles.
Enroll your child in a supplemental education program. These programs are a great way to customize a curriculum for your children and provide them with an alternative outlet for ongoing education. Eye Level Learning Centers often have the child take an initial assessment to determine their academic placement, regardless of grade level, to determine the best program to meet their needs. Research learning centers in the area, especially ones that have low student-to-teacher ratios, as it’s important that children have individual attention.
Summer Camp: Whether you are looking for a day camp or a summer sleep away camp, there are many specialty camps – science, math, art, music and computers, among many others – that feed specific interests and have academics built into the program.
Get Ahead of the Game: Schedule time to meet with your child’s current teacher or teacher for the next grade, to learn specific topics that the child should work on. Whether mastering skills learned during the previous school year or getting a head start on upcoming lessons, the summer is a great time to develop skills.
Vacation Education: Spending a week at the beach or heading to the mountains for vacation? Before you head out of town, find out what the destination has to offer and take advantage of the educational activities. Visiting historic sites and landmarks is a great way to teach children about history and geography.
Plan a Day Trip: Schedule a day trip to a museum, zoo or farm. Interactive activities like these are a great way to promote learning and spending a day at a new place is exciting and often memorable for children.
Gaming and Instruments: There are millions of video games and apps available to download on your phone, tablet or computer, and many provide great educational benefits. Spend some time researching games and apps that are best suited for both the learning needs and interests of your children. Learning new musical instruments are also a great way to keep the mind sharp and make beautiful sounding music.
Stimulate the Mind with Sports: Sports are a great way to sharpen math skills while encouraging children to enjoy what they love. For example, if your child loves baseball (which is full of statistics) have them follow their favorite team and keep the score or track home runs and runs batted in (RBI’s), and more.
Keep a Journal: Encourage children to keep a journal of all of the memorable events that happen during the summer. Not only does this give them a place to share their thoughts and capture their memories, it helps further develop writing abilities.
 
Several years have passed after the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (Common Core) in the K-12 public school system, and now the Common Core aligned assessments are rolling out in more than twenty states across the U.S. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a group of states creating these standardized assessments to determine whether students are learning what the standards set out to do – equip students to be college and career ready. The computer-based PARCC assessments will better address students’ needs and learning styles within the classroom. Results of this assessment will be directly utilized to assist teachers with planning successful instruction customized to their classroom environment.
The new PARCC assessments will include text-based questions, thus challenging the students to refer back to the text and find explicit details pertaining to main ideas and supporting details. Many sets of questions will ask the students to choose a quote that directly supports the main idea, such as in the example below
Teaching the students to go back to the text helps them hone in on the details of the text itself instead of on the students’ opinions or relying on rote memory.
Also, the PARCC assessments encourage students to compare and contrast two texts. When doing so, make sure that the texts are within the same topic. Have students use graphic organizers such as a Venn Diagram or highlight the pieces of information for similarities and differences using multiple color highlighters if needed. See the example below that compares and contrasts the classic character of the Big Bad Wolf in the “Three Little Pigs” and “Little Red Riding Hood” stories. This type of example challenges the students not only to analyze the similarities and differences from the stories, but to make connections across texts.
Tips for Test Taking:
1. Be sure to get a good night’s sleep as well as eat a good breakfast the day of the test.
2. If you are feeling nervous, take a deep breath and understand that if you get an answer
    wrong, it doesn’t count against you.
3. Read all directions and questions carefully. If you need to, read the question twice to    ensure that you understand the question thoroughly.
4. Take your time. The more you rush, the more nervous and careless you may get.
5. If you are unsure of an answer, skip the question and go back to it at the end.
6. If you have time at the end, go back and review your work. Be sure to go back to any    unanswered question first.
Many parents desire for their children to be avid readers and to love reading. In some cases, this love of reading comes naturally and effortlessly. For others, reading can be a struggle and the process can be laborious. When students have a difficult time with the learning-to-read process, the activity itself becomes unenjoyable and students quickly lose interest. Unfortunately, without the interest to want to read, students do not improve their reading skills.
Therefore, how can we encourage and motivate our reluctant readers? Here are a few tips on how to help those reluctant readers.
1. Connect with the student’s interests. Students are more likely to pick a book in which they are interested. Books can cover hobbies such as fishing, car racing, ice skating, etc. or can be informational texts covering intriguing science topics. Choosing a topic that is new may also spark students’ interest.
2. Use technology to your advantage. With technology making a significant impact on students’ learning, parents can use eBooks and download them on a mobile device. Many eBooks allow students to hear the story read to them while the words are simultaneously highlighted on the screen. These books can be simple picture books or even a full length chapter book.
3. Show students how reading can affect other subjects such as reading a math problem, conducting a science experiment by adding ingredients together, or following directions on a map.
4. Make reading a shared activity at home. Shared reading allows the parent and child not only to spend time together, but to engage in meaningful discussion about the book. The parent and child can take turns reading pages or read silently together, stopping occasionally to discuss what is being read. This allows the parent to model reading and to make it a fun activity that both can enjoy.
5. Introduce students to a book series. Explain that reading a series of books can be like watching a TV show series. Also, some book series have been developed into movies. If students have seen the movie, it may pique their interest to pick up the book version.
Here are some examples of popular children’s books that have turned into movies:
 
Have you heard of “Self Directed Learning” and “Multiple intelligence (MI)?” As these represent the current trend in education, let’s find out what they are.

The concept of Multiple Intelligences was first formulated by Howard Gardner in his 1983 book, Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Whereas linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligences are centrally addressed and nurtured by the three Rs of traditional education, other forms of intelligence, including musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and spatial, provide alternative means of accessing knowledge, according to Gardner’s scheme. CLICK HERE
 
Although some may excel in certain areas, everyone has talent in the 8 different areas of intelligence which can be further developed. This implies that every child has the potential but at the same time, it also implies that not everyone can benefit from the same type of education or studying method. Therefore, it is important that the child finds which area he or she has talent and further develop the skills as this can lead to the habit of studying in a self-directed manner. Self-directed learning is the trend in today’s education as it allows the learners to become self-directed in every way. Students are able to set their own goals and proceed according to their own plans. So then, what is the role of the parent in this process? First, the parent can guide the child to take the MI test to see which areas the child has talent in. Then the following 6 points should be taken into account to help them build the habit of being self-directed:
 
How to Guide the Child to Become Self-Directed
 
1. Think outside the box
“Student with high intelligence quotient (IQ) is smart” “Student who studies for a long time is smart” This is a stereotype that we generally have; however, it’s more likely the case that students show great performance when they study based on the strong intelligence area. Everyone has his or her own pair of jeans that fits him/her best – there is no single pair of jeans that fits everyone.
 
2. Observe the child closely
Don’t push your child to study; rather, find ways to arouse curiosity in the child. Observe your child carefully and find out what the child is interested in.
 
3. Discover your child’s strengths and keep him/her inspired
First, administer the MI test and figure out which intelligence area the child excels in. Once the strengths is found, keep encouraging the child so that he or she can gain confidence and further develop their skills.
 
4. Assign a subject to focus on
Even if the student doesn’t perform quite well in school, he or she will usually have a favorite subject. As a parent, you should discuss with your child to find out which subject he or she is most interested in and focus on that subject.
 
5. Compliment your child when he or she shows improvement
Compliment your child as much as you can whenever he or she shows improvement – not just in terms of grades but in terms of showing interest as well. Such positive remarks will lead to great results.
 
6. Challenge the weak subject once the child has gained confidence
Once the child succeeds in mastering his or her favorite subject, they will gain confidence and be able to try out another. Keep the child motivated so that he or she can challenge him/herself to focus on the weak subject. Make sure you keep encouraging the child and provide proper guidance along the way so that he or she does not give up in the middle.
 
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