Beating the Summer Slump

Written By: Rachel Strong
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"The Summer Slump", teachers call it. It happens every year. It makes its way into lesson plans and even into the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

It affected us, our parents, our grandparents, and now our children. The beginning of each school year is spent re-learning what was learned at the end of the last school year. But just because it's normal doesn't make it right, or unavoidable.

There are many ways to beat the summer slump.

One of the first ways is to get your kids out of the house. Enroll your child in summer programs. Most community centers and churches hold day camps and week-long summer camps. Recent studies have shown a direct correlation between violence and the lack of time spent in nature. Getting outside the house helps engage both mind and body and (outside from some scraped knees and sunburns) can do nothing but good.

On those days when air quality and the heat makes outdoors unbearable, libraries are still open and air conditioned. Unlike movie theaters, libraries are free. Libraries usually have summer programs and reading contests to help banish the summer slump.

Visit museums and zoos at least once during the summer. Children's museums have a lot of hands-on exhibits and interactive features and zoos can encourage a love for the environment and animals.

If you have older students, encourage them to get a job. Having a job teaches skills your student will need throughout his or her life.

Should your older student balk on getting work, get him or her to volunteer at a local community center or church. Experts are saying that this generation is the most narcissistic and self-absorbed in history (Of course, don't "they" say that about each successive generation?). But giving, either money or your time, makes anyone less selfish, and less selfish people tend to prosper financially and in their relationships.

Encourage your student to learn at least one new thing a week. This can help keep brains active and help your child foster a love of learning.

Put child locks on your TV. This is easy to do and can be done through the TV or the satellite or cable box. Through child locks, you can block certain channels or even program the amount of time the television can be used and at what times. You can block out the "mindless entertainment" channels such as Nick and MTV and make sure all your child can watch is Discover and the History Channel. Even if you are not home during the day, you can be in control of what your child watches.

Before you leave for work, take the power cords from all laptops and computers and put them in the trunk of your car. Laptop batteries only last about two hours, and desktops cannot be used without the power cord. This will keep your child off of the Internet and computer games.

The last thing you want to do to beat the summer slump is to make sure everyone in your child's life gets involved. The majority of school-aged children have to split their time between two or more households. There's no point in starting your child in a reading club at the local library if all she is going to do at Mom's house is play video games, watch TV and surf the Internet.

If your child is going to spend an extended amount of time with another family member, make sure your child cannot play one child off the other-make sure your "co-parent" makes sure your shared child(ren) reads, plays outside, or volunteers.

The summer slump is easy to beat. Doing these easy steps will help your child excel in the next school year.

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