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Tweens at Risk for Summer Learning Loss

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The survey of American parents with tweens in grades 4-8, commissioned by Sylvan Learning found that while 51 percent of respondents claim to be concerned about summer learning loss, their kids spend significantly more of their free time playing outside (30%), playing video games (17%) and watching TV (18%) than reading (12%) over the break.

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Some of the survey’s interesting findings are:

Girls Are More Excited To Read Than Boys: 56% of girls are excited about reading compared to 37% of boys, according to surveyed parents. How can parents encourage boys to read? 20% of parents said that offering a reward helps.

Digital Doesn't Necessarily Encourage More Reading: Tweens Actually Prefer Bound Books: 75% of parents said that their kids prefer to read a physical book with less than 20% preferring a tablet or e-reader.

Favorite Tween Book Genres: The top three book genres that kids like to read, according to their parents, are Humor (58%), Fantasy (53%) and Action-Adventure (43%).

Reading Dwindles As Tweens Get Older: 46% of tweens are reading less than four books according to their parents, and as kids get older they tend to read fewer books. While 66% of parents of 9 &10 year olds said their child reads more than five books over the summer, only 44% of 13 & 14 year olds did.

Related Research: According to the latest National Assessment of Education Progress only 38% of high school seniors are proficient or higher in reading.

Melissa Taylor, award-winning educator with a master's in education and blogger at Imagination Soup and Kim Moldofsky, STEM education blogger at The Maker Mom have given us some of their best tips:

Summer Learning Loss Tips by Melissa Taylor, Blogger at Imagination Soup (www.imaginationsoup.net)

1. Make a daily schedule. Be sure it includes time for reading and math practice.

2. Prepare for success. Be sure you have wall that you need. Buy or check out lots of books for reading. For math, order workbooks or buy math iPad apps. Provide supplies for writing and drawing.

3. Make it fun. Let your kids read, write, draw or do math review anywhere they like - in the backyard, in a tent, on a pillow.

4. Provide incentives and rewards. Brainstorm a list of weekly rewards such as watch a movie, go to the pool, or go for ice cream to incentivize the learning time.

Summer Learning Loss Tips by Kim Moldofsky, Blogger at The Maker Mom (www.themakermom.com)

1. We find it helpful to limit the amount of screen time in the summer, or have the kids earn their time by participating in outdoor activities.

2. Frequent trips to the library. We let our boys pick their own books and aim to visit at least once a week to refresh our supply. One summer my younger boy seemed to read nothing but Garfield comic books, but his reading scores still peaked in fall testing. Sylvan offer great tips for readers, too. http://www.sylvanlearning.com/blog/index.php/summer-reading-list-for-tweens/

3. I know that hearing a child whine “I’m bored!” is like nails on a chalkboard to most parents. It irks me, too, but wonderful creativity ultimately stems from boredom. So wait it out and trust the process. Here’s an example of something my son created after whining about having nothing to do. http://www.themakermom.com/2013/01/makey-makey-minecraft-cure-for-boredom.html

4. If your child insists there is absolutely nothing to do, suggest he look through his books, games, toys or clothes and find ten items to donate to charity. That usually leads them to find something more interesting to do.

5. Summer can be a chance to try a new skill. There are so many options for summer camp these days that go beyond sports and campfire cookouts. My boys have attended camps that taught them to build electronics to program computers. One of my sons took a short class in polymers, where he mixed up all kinds of goopy things (like this: http://www.sylvanlearning.com/blog/index.php/spooky-steamy-fun-for-halloween/), while the other boy took a course in pyrotechnics, which essentially involved creating explosions. These camps made science exciting and engaging—and there were no tests!

Sylvan Learning has compiled a summer reading list for tweens in grades four through eight, based on the most popular books on their Book Adventure website. Find the recommended reading list and tips from Sylvan Learning at: http://www.sylvanlearning.com/blog/index.php/summer-reading-list-for-tweens.

-R.R.Cratty

Rhonda Cratty includes her experiences of 30 years of public school teaching, raising children of her own, and articles written for on-line and hard copy publications -within the pages of Learning at home. Learning at home can be purchased in print or eBook form through Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/dp/1494917203

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