By Latasha Denay Myers

When you think of summer break, you automatically think of swimming pools, family vacations, lot’s of sunshine, cook-outs, and NO SCHOOL. Many children take full advantage of the “school free” days that summer has to offer by spending little to no time on educational enrichment. Countless school teachers will tell you that the first few weeks of school are used to review skill sets that were learned the previous school year because children are not prepared to resume learning at the next level.

It is never too late to prepare children for a great school year. Just because summer is over doesn’t mean you should stop preparing your child for school. Here are five things you can continue to do:

1. Review the frequent word list from the previous grade level. If your child has mastered the words from the previous list, start on the list for this school year. Most school systems have these lists by grade level on their websites. Create games with the list to help challenge children. We keep the list posted on the refrigerator and whenever the kids ask for a snack they have to make a sentence using words from the list before they get the snack. They earn a little extra if they use multiple words in a single sentence.

2. Read, Read, Read – Reading over the summer is so important. It helps students stay in the habit of reading, helps increase vocabulary, and improves communication skills. Ask open ended questions about a book your child has read. If reading a book is not your child’s idea of summer fun then have them create their own book using free software such as storyboard. We use cooking as a way to brush up on math and reading skills. In order to create the recipe successfully children have to read and follow directions as well as use the correct measurements of the ingredients.

3. Journal – Keeping a journal is a fun way to remember summer activities and practice penmanship. Even young children can keep a journal by drawing pictures and dictating to parents what the picture represents. Parents can assist young children in writing the details for their pictures. If your child has not kept a summer journal now is still a good time to start. Children can reflect upon past events and write their expectations for the upcoming school year.

4. Be creative – Give your child an inexpensive digital camera or disposable camera and let them take pictures for a few days of the things they find interesting. Develop the pictures and/or up load them to a program like windows movie maker to make a movie with text about the pictures or put the pictures in a scrap book with details on each picture. Use the pictures to make a summer mobile or turn them into postcards for family and friends to tell them about the summer. (Grandparents love these!)

5. Virtual field trips – Many families are traveling less this year due to our economy and many other factors, but with the use of technology students can take virtual trips right from home. This site has a complete section of virtual fieldtrips to great places in our state. The trips are sorted by grade level and some trips also include activities and follow up questions.

Latasha has an extensive background in education and runs the summer camp Learning & Adventures in Winston-Salem, as well as Bright Light Enrichment, a special program for young boys with disabilities.

What are other ways you can help your child’s school transition easier? What did you do over the summer?