By Katelyn Bornholdt
You’ve just walked out of your parent-teacher conference. Your child’s teacher recommends that you spend time this summer working at home, but… how?
Here are some “Tips from a Teacher” about how to get that extra review and practice at home this summer.
TIP #1: Befriend Your Local Stationary Store
Don’t underestimate the power of a colorful writing utensil. Kids may not want to write their ABC’s, spelling words or sentences over and over again, but add a highlighter to the mix and they’ll be begging you to let them practice writing.
My favorite part of China has got to be the abundance of fun, little school-supply shops. These shops are filled with colorful markers, highlighters, cartoon character pencils, stickers and - my students’ favorite - glitter pens. So be sure to stock up on fun writing supplies before your summer study.
TIP #2: Sight Word Jenga
One of the things that teachers will often tell parents to do is to review “sight words.” These are the words that we see and use most often in English. They are the words that students need to memorize in order to read fluently, and to write basic sentences, and they a big part of any “Summer Review” list.
So how can we practice reading these words? Flashcards are always an option, but that can be dull after a while, so I recommend Jenga. After all, who doesn’t love the tower building game that requires dainty fingers and a big tumbling crash of blocks?
At the aforementioned stationary stores, or online, you can buy a cheap set of plain Jenga blocks. Then, using a permanent marker, write each word your child needs to study on a block. Build the tower by putting three blocks facing one way, and three facing the other until it’s nice and tall. Then carefully push and pull each block out. When your child has successfully pulled out a block, they read the word and get a point. If they can’t read the word, it goes on top of the tower. The person with the most blocks when the tower comes crashing down, wins.
This game can be played with all age levels, and can also be used to practice alphabet recognition. Just write letters on the blocks instead of words. Great for pre-school level motor skills and all-around family fun.
TIP #3: Take It Outside
It’s a beautiful day and no one wants to focus on reviewing the alphabet - so take it outside! Go on an ABC scavenger hunt: take a walk around the neighborhood, looking for letters on street signs or in shop windows. Have your child cross off the letters they find on their walk, and reward them if they get through the whole alphabet. Remember: I is for ice cream.
TIP #4: Keep it Crafty
Summer in Shanghai is bound to have some rainy days, so if you can’t take a walk outside, there are ways to be creative indoors, too. Make an ABC Smash Book: buy a small notebook for your child and assign a letter or a word to each page. Have them search through old magazines, shopping bags, or other print materials to find letters and words to collage into their “smash book.”
These pages can be supplemented with their own decorations as well, but ripping through old magazines is always fun. This activity can also be used to practice phonics by finding pictures of words that have the same sound as the letter you’re looking for. Find a picture of an apple? Cut it out and glue it on the “A” page. Keep the search interesting by looking for both capital and lowercase letters, and by the end of the summer, they’re bound to have one very cool looking book.
TIP #5: Use the Internet Like a Teacher
Here’s a little secret… Teachers don’t make all of their own resources. We use the Internet. Places like Pinterest, TeachersPayTeachers and Education.com are all websites I visit on a daily basis to get ideas for games, crafts and materials. You can use these websites too, and a lot of great resources are free. Both Education.com and TeachersPayTeachers have free, colorful flashcards and worksheets waiting for you to print out and practice with your child.
Using the Internet like a teacher will make your summer studying easier and more efficient, so be sure to check these sites out.
Teachers, parents and students all look forward to relaxing, fun summers. But many students lose important information during the summer, which means that your child will be playing catch-up when they go back to school in September.
Reviewing and reading a little bit everyday this summer will make a big difference, and these tips will help make it all more fun. Enjoy your summer holidays, anchor and happy studying!