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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Birth to 5 Q&A: How to stop the “summer slide” in learning

Q: What can I do with my preschooler to keep him occupied and learning over the summer?

A: As a parent or caregiver, no one cares more about your child’s education than you do. Get involved in helping your child learn at home this summer. This preparation will help ensure that your child will enter school ready to be successful in the classroom.

Here are simple tips that can help during the summer months:

Encourage your child to read. It’s the single most important thing you can do to help your child succeed in school. Read aloud with your child for at least 20 minutes each day, and make reading together part of your daily routine (even when summer is over).

Monitor screen time. Set summer limits on time spent watching television, using the computer or tablet and playing video games.

Create a special summer-learning space. Make a spot in your home where you and your child can enjoy books and other fun learning activities. Children learn new vocabulary by hearing new words through conversations. Dialogic book reading is also important, because you engage your child during the reading time. Ask them questions, listen to their answers, expand on their responses and ask them more questions.

Start new projects or activities. Encourage your child to take on some new summer responsibilities. Parents can help choose activities that build knowledge, responsibility and independence. This could include helping with chores, working on a puzzle together or starting a new hobby such as rock collecting.

Create a daily activity calendar. Families can develop a calendar of special daily activities, such as visits to low-cost or no-cost community spaces or the public library. Most libraries offer children and their parents a variety of storytimes and other events. Also ask your local library if they offer a Culture Pass program, where families are able to attend great learning attractions including the Arizona Science Center and the Desert Botanical Garden for free.

Encourage healthy summer habits. Families that maintain good bedtime and sleep routines during the summer are fortifying healthful habits throughout the year. Summer routines that include good eating habits and physical exercise are a great source of fun family experiences. While summer in Arizona may mean more time indoors, consider including in your daily calendar activities for motor development and exercise. Your child will love to move like their favorite zoo animal, engage in yoga moves or simply dance.

Creating a fun schedule of summer events will help pass the time and offer learning opportunities for a summer of continued growth and development.

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Mindy Zapata, M.Ed.

Mindy Zapata, M.Ed., is director of Head Start and Early Head Start at Southwest Human Development.

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