Contributed by Eliza Wagner Srestha, ES Tutoring & Consulting.
In the midst of the sweet, slow days of summer, thoughts of September and the start of a new school year may fade like the last lingering rays of a late summer sunset… or perhaps a creeping anxiety persists about how to help your child keep his or her skills sharp this summer, yet you dread the endless nagging that comes with getting a reluctant teen to pick up a nonrequired book during the summer. No matter which of these camps you’re in, rest assured there are fun, easy ways to help your child hone his or her vocabulary, gain critical thinking skills, and even become a better writer this summer.
Follow my tips below to sneak some mental aerobics into your summer fun.
To help your child expand his vocabulary, make it a fun family challenge! Every day choose one (or two or three) new words to learn, and try to incorporate those words into your conversations. Over dinner, in the car, at the beach, and throughout the day, use the words in as many different contexts as you can, and see who can use the words the most. Each day, be sure to incorporate the words you learned the day before, and behold as your child luxuriates in a voluminous new lexicon!
The best way to become a good writer is by being a good reader, so help your child choose high quality books that span a wide variety of topics, styles and genres, and encourage your child’s critical thinking by asking questions about what they are reading. You can also have your child write short reader responses reflecting on the text, redesign the book cover, write an alternate title, or complete some other creative project about the book. Your local librarian is a great resource to help your child find books of interest. For the resistant reader, try helping him or her organize a book club with friends. Making it a social eventwith some special treats!will enhance the appeal.
Encourage your child to pick up a magazine or newspaper once in a while. Not only is the short length of an article less of a commitment than a book, and thus potentially more appealing, but reading nonfiction helps students expand their vocabulary and appreciate different writing styles. And discussing the topics they read about is a good way to practice debating skills, which will help them with essay writing as well. So ask your child what she thinks about a news topic, and then make it a challenge to convince you to agree with her perspective!
A fun, nopressure way for kids to practice writing skills is through a journal or diary. Let your child pick out a nice blank book from the store to write in, or make it even more enticing my helping him set up a blog online. Encourage your child to write daily, even if only for five minutes. This regular practice will keep them in a good routine and help them to maintain good habits throughout the summer. And they can document fun trips and experiences along the way! Incorporating photographs or other mementos can provide inspiration for the writing and make for a nice summer scrapbook to look back on.
The next time you have an evening of family time planned, set up a game of Scrabble, Bananagrams, or Balderdash. All of these commercially available games are fun to play and help participants expand their vocabulary and improve their spelling. Divide the family into teams to help include younger siblings, or increase the competitive energy by letting the winner take the week off of their chores!
About our Education Expert:
Eliza Wagner Srestha, Founder and Director of ES Tutoring & Consulting, is a former English teacher at Milton Academy and currently works with middle and high school students and consults with schools and nonprofits in the area. Her fall classes are enrolling now. For more information, please see visit her Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/elizasrestha or browse her website at www.estutoring.com.