The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

No Workbooks This Summer

Many  parents buy workbooks for their children in order  for
them  to keep up with or get ahead of their school work over  the
summer.  This equating of workbooks with learning sometimes makes
for  a  miserable  summer for some children  and  may  result  in
turning  them  off to true learning.  Instead  of  making  summer
vacation a continuation of the school year, parents can use  this
time  to interact with their children in creative  and  enjoyable
ways which are more educational.

Research  has shown that doing workbook pages does not  help
children read better.  What helps children more is for parents to
read  to them.  Summer vacation is a good time to do  this.   One
good  system is to read to children a long book over a period  of
time.  For example, “Alice in Wonderland” can be read chapter  by
chapter.   Before beginning each chapter, the parent can ask  the
children  what  happened so far and what they think  will  happen
next.  Children not only are learning that there are  interesting
things to read about in books, they are also learning how to  use

During  their vacation, children should not be pressured  to
improve  their  own reading skills.  They should be  reading  for
enjoyment.   This  is  best  accomplished  by  parents  providing
material  that is below their current reading  level.   Sometimes
children are embarrassed to pick out “easy” books for  themselves
from  the  library but parents can do it for them.  I  would  not
comment on the books chosen, just put them on the child’s bedside
table  and after they have been read, simply provide more at  the
same  level.   One of the most important things  that  should  be
learned about reading is that it can be a pleasure rather than  a

Children need a background of experience in order to  better
understand the words they are reading.  These experiences can  be
provided  in the summer.  There can be trips to the zoo,  to  the
museum,  to the store, to the library, and to the park.   Parents
can  engage in a dialogue with the children about what  they  saw
and  what they liked about these trips.  They might even want  to
keep a diary about their summer experiences.

Car trips provide many opportunities for learning.  You  can
use the time to solve math problems.  How long does it take to go
90  miles at 55 miles an hour?  How many miles can you go  before
you  will  need  more  gas?   Make  children  your  navigator  by
teaching  them how to read maps.  There is a good book  entitled,
“Games  for Children While Traveling” by Sid Hedges  which  gives
other good ideas.

Card  games also fill many enjoyable vacation  hours.   They
help  build  language, social skills,  visual  memory,  numerical
sequence, computation and number concepts.  All ages can play and
it helps build family cohesiveness.

Finally,  do  not  forget board games.   They  help  children
follow  rules,  take  turns, and learn math  skills.   For  young
children there are games like Candyland and for older ones  there
is always the old favorite, Monopoly.

  The   most   natural,  effective  and   rewarding   learning
experiences are those which take place between parent and  child. 
I encourage you to foster these experiences this summer and relax
and enjoy your children.

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