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Beat the Summer Slide - 5 tips to keep up with English language learning

Updated: Aug 26, 2022

5 Easy tips to Keeping English Language knowledge and recall high during summer

Summer is so close you can almost touch it! And with Hong Kong having the shortest quarantine period since the start of the pandemic, summer plans probably have you nervous, overwhelmed, and giddy with excitement. BUT – hold on a second, you cannot forget about the summer slide. With weeks and months invested in your child’s English Language Learning, you cannot let these weeks off slow down progress or even result in learning loss! This is especially true if your little one is multilingual.

So here is our guide of easy and fun tips, with activities, to engage your kids to ensure that they keep up with their English language learning, and beat the summer slide!

Tip #1 - Co-create and follow through with kid-friendly summer learning goals

It can be super attractive to let your children go completely wild and free over the summer (six hours of screen time at the hotel while you FINALLY read the book that’s been on your bookshelf for the last 3 years!). While you would definitely not be the first, or only one to do so, roughly 75% of children don’t have any supervised or structured learning during summer. It is important to inform and have them commit to goals they want to achieve for the break.

The goals should be small and attainable while also contributing to a greater whole. For example, 20 minutes of reading a day, adds up to finishing 5-10 books over the course of the summer.

Other ways to encourage children to stick to their goals is to mark progress tangibly on a piece of paper or calendar, spark a sense of healthy competition (with siblings, cousins or friends) and create a reward system (instead of material gifts, you can reward them with day trips, their favourite meal, or some special bonding time with the family!)

Tip #2 - Inculcate good reading habits!

There’s much to be said about reading, and it is undoubtedly one of the best ways to avoid the summer slide. A study in New Zealand showed that children given books to take home during summer, no matter what books those were, helped reduced the learning loss. So whip out the graphic novels, encyclopaedias (or, chapter books or even recipe books!

Just get them engaged in content that they have to read. We highly recommend books that will interest your child, so find their passion, and buy or borrow books in those areas, as well as books that will challenge them in order to cognitively engage them.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” - Dr Seuss

Tip #3 - Encourage communication and articulation – talk with friends and family!

How often is each member of the family on a different gadget while sitting in the same room? But with growing children, especially those that are in early language development, practicing both listening AND speaking is essential. Research by paediatricians has shown that instead of just providing language input, such as parents reading or storytelling, it is essential to engage children in two-sided conversations. The best part about being on holiday is that there is SO much to talk about!

Whether you are just looking out of the window and observing weather (discussing seasons with younger ones and global warming with older kids), or talking about the history of locations you’re visiting or reiterating upcoming tasks or chores, there is something to be learnt from all conversations. It is also a great way to truly get to know your child, finding out their hopes and aspirations, and developing a deeper bond with them.

Tip #4 - Sign up for a passion-project summer programme to develop skills and expertise

With the school year being chock-o-block with classes, after school activities, friends and family commitments, it can be hard to find time to squeeze in your child’s growing curiosity in a particular area or invest in passions they wish to focus on. Be it dance, photography, coding, water sports, volunteering, etc. there are plenty of programmes across Hong Kong that offer specialized summer offerings for kids. For example, our Writers Workshop is great for the budding authors and journalists who have wanted to go beyond their school work and hone their talents. And the LEGO Six Bricks Workshop to spark discussion, co-operation and lots of serious play. It’s a not only a great way to keep them engaged and busy while you might be at work or have other commitments, it greatly lessens the summer slide.

By keeping their brain active, either through learning new skills where they are creating new synaptic connections or through reinforcing their interests and existing connections in their brains. Moreover, being in a group setting with their peers is good for both their souls and their brains!

Tip #5 - Harness your creativity, and use your child’s imagination!

Nothing works! My child hates reading! We’ve received this comment innumerable times, and I get it. Some kids find it hard to focus on reading, even if it’s just 10-20 minutes a day. But one that that all children have is their big fat imagination! Start small – ask them to draw or doodle a story out. Do it together. Then craft stories about the drawings. Try jotting down some key words as your child tells their story. Show them how their words craft stories. In time, your child may want to pen their own story. And then it’s a keepsake you can come back to and read together.

And there are MANY ways to go about this process. If you have a dramatic child, ask them to act out something about your family or your recent holiday. If your little one has a great love for a TV show or character, ask them to create a new adventure that happened. If your child is a gamer, play the video game with them!

Now that you know the characters and the story, you can ask them to create more stories based on the narrative. If you are visiting sites during your travels, ask your child to research a bit about the history of the place you are at, and then recount it. Stories are all around us, and through spoken, written, acted or drawn narratives, you will keen engaging your child’s brain ensuring that they are learning, enjoying and keeping the summer slide away! .

We are parents, too, and have tried and tested all the tips shared today. Take the risk. Have fun whilst learning. If you'd like The Learning Coach to support your child's academic development or build resilience and positive mindset, drop us a line for a free 30-minute consultation call.

We would love to hear your comments and any feedback once you've used these tips.

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