Here’s an interesting fact: When given the same test before summer break and after vacation, students typically score lower – even though it’s the same test they already took. The summer slide is a serious problem. Most students lose 2+ months of grade level equivalency in math and reading skills. Most students lose academic achievements AND healthy advances. Children actually gain weight more rapidly during summer break when you would think it’d be the opposite as they are outside playing all day, right? And they are eating healthy foods straight from berry bushes and the garden, right? Wrong. Learn the facts. Research tells us most kids are actually not having fun in the sun. Most kids are indoors watching tv and playing video games. Most kids are eating junk food – or sadly most of the kids who got free breakfast/lunch at school – aren’t eating adequate meals at home.
Luckily there are some community programs and schools who offer meals during vacation. Look up your district for answers on where to find such resources. Also look up your district to find where your library is, because the number one way to prevent the summer slide is reading! Make sure your child doesn’t back-track before back-to-school. Many libraries even offer incentives for reading. My boys got free kids meals and ice cream cones and tickets for carousal rides and coupons for the movies and gift certificates for book stores… It actually paid to have them reading this summer!
Besides those cool incentives, reading is a priceless bonding time. Life gets so busy that you sometimes forget about the unique interests your child has. Asking them to pick out a book for you to read to them not only offers cuddle time, but lets you into the world of what they are in to. I never knew my child was so curious about other places in the world until he kept borrowing library books about far off lands…and even though he’s starting to read on his own – I’ll take any opportunity to cuddle that he gives me. My boys are getting bigger and I know these moments will one day end so I won’t take for granted the cuddles offered today. I’ll make time for story time snuggles as long as they let me!
I was excited to see that this months theme for Mother Goose Time was Fables and Folktales because the daily stories would provide daily snuggles! Week ones adventure was all about Aesop’s Fables and there were great lessons within each story. The first story was my younger son’s favorite: The Lion and the Mouse. They loved all the activities, but especially using the theme poster to make up memory games and using the stick puppets to re-tell the tale. We did day 1 activities as a way to settle down one evening and they woke the next day eager to start day 2, wondering what story was featured. “The Bundle of Sticks” was a perfect lesson for our kids and the kids I work with, as team building is something my business of Mi Families works on with families, children’s providers, youth leaders, and random kids programming – including our Adventure Academy.
Each morning the boys would wake excited about the lessons and each evening ended with cuddles on the couch re-reading or listening to the story. Some stories like day 3’s “The Grasshopper and the Ants” were read repeatedly throughout the week. Although the cover says “preschool” the short tales can be enjoyed by all ages. AND the message can be shared with all ages, as even some adults need reminding when it’s time to work, and when it’s time to play…I’m so blessed my work is play! AND the Mother Goose Time curriculum makes it easy so I have time to actually PLAY with my children and students – and during the times I have to prepare for lessons and can’t play, there are many materials that are self guided for the children to interact with. The stories on CD were perfect for such times!
I do have to prepare lessons ahead of time so I know what materials I need to set out and which activities I have to find substitutions for – such as in the Grasshopper/Ant story my son is allergic to corn so we couldn’t use that product, but most lessons are easily adaptable. Also most lessons are easily adaptable for diverse age groups. 2 year olds to 12 year olds I work with have enjoyed the activities. When it’s too hard for a toddler I simplify the lesson and when it’s too easy for an elementary age student I expand on it. For example the Finish Line game in “The Hare and the Tortoise” tale the younger students practice taking turns and following directions on the cube, while my older students made a number line game that involved adding, subtraction, multiplication and division! They also realized that how the cube was taped affected the outcome of the role!
My oldest son couldn’t choose if the Hare/Tortoise story or “The Dog and His Reflection” were his favorite, but he did like day 5 activities best. He especially loved helping the younger children play “Doggie Doggie Where’s your Bone” with the provided dog bone. My children and those I work with love using the provided materials to create new activities with and I have the feeling that dog bone will continue to get it’s use – especially since we don’t have a dog that’ll eat it! The children loved how the fables were about animals and often connected the stories with lessons we learned in last months Nature Detective kit. We talked about how to take care of animals and how to protect their habitats. Discussions also led to how each animal has a purpose, just as each person does and how we should embrace the uniqueness of others and encourage them to use their gifts and talents – and to be thankful for the diversity in this world. Even among a small family unit everyone is different – I challenge you to find ways to showcase the diversity in your own family. Who has what gifts and talents? Who is interested in what topics? How can you foster that interest and learn about new things together as a family? Remember that the summer slide is serious. Don’t stop learning because it’s summer. Read books together, explore your community together … talk with each other during meal times. If you need help coming up with what to talk about, where to go for community meals, what to explore in your area … let us know! Someone on our team will help you find resources! Or hop on line or call a local agency – or stop by your local library – the library is a great resource – for beyond books!
You can find more resources by asking others on our Facebook page, checking out our Pinterest or YouTube channel. You can also find some great educational resources for young children through Mother Goose Time. Click highlighted areas for links and click the subscribe button above for future resourceful articles. THANKS