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Smart Summer Strategies For Families

Summer’s here. Now what? For many students, the next few months are packed with camps, sports clinics, Summer Fun, trips to the beach and family vacations.

But this break from school also can mean extra screen time.

Parents are guilty of using the television, computer or iPad as “baby sitters,” and summer is high season for that. In other words, they can overdo it on technology stimulation and overlook stimulating their minds.

The kids are stoked for summer fun! Kaimana and Hana Joaquin at Makaha Beach. TANNYA JOAQUIN PHOTO

The kids are stoked for summer fun! Kaimana and Hana Joaquin at Makaha Beach. TANNYA JOAQUIN PHOTO

Now, I’m not a fan of blaming the media. Not all programs are created equally, though. I’ve been blown away by some of the knowledge my children drop out of nowhere. They’ve become mini-encyclopedias, thanks to PBS Kids and educational series such as Octonauts and Dinosaur Train.

What we do want to do is prevent what’s known as the “summer slide.” This is when students regress and lose skills in subjects such as math and reading. If that happens, teachers have to spend the first month in the fall getting students back on academic track.

Here’s a scary statistic to keep in mind: According to the U.S. Department of Education, reading skills for students fall behind about 25 percent during the summer. Not what you want to read, right?

Smart Summer Strategy No. 1: Read to your child every day and ask questions about the stories. Also, let your child see you reading. You lead by example.

But that’s only part of the equation. Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education did a study through its National Center for Summer Learning. It found that most students lose two months of math skills during the summer. Turns out parents do a better job keeping their children reading during summer months than they do keeping up math at home.

Smart Summer Strategy No. 2: Find creative ways to incorporate math into your day. Maybe your child can help you measure out ingredients in the kitchen, count items in books that you read, or learn about percentages and statistics during their summer athletics. The point is to keep them mathematically engaged. This may be an opportunity to use computer games too. Keep score and limit screen time. At least they’ll be using their math.

Just don’t allow them to turn into couch potatoes this summer. Johns Hopkins researchers found that children gain weight more rapidly during summer break.

Smart Summer Strategy No. 3: Keep your children moving. Physical activity is a must. This should be a nobrainer for us. We live in Hawaii. Get out and enjoy paradise as a family. Go out for a bike ride, swim, surf, hike. The options are endless — unlike summer. Before you know it, you’ll be doing your back-to-school shopping. Which leads me to my final point.

Smart Summer Strategy No. 4: Make the most of your summer