The Silicon Valley Voice

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SUMMER FUN AND EDIFICATION

All this cold, wet weather makes it easy to forget that summer is right around the corner. Kids, however, have begun conjuring up thoughts of sleeping in, staying up late and enjoying a two-month homework reprieve. While those dreams are tempting, we know as parents we want our kids to keep their educational edge, stay out of harm’s way and out of our hair!

American schools were traditionally designed to fit the needs of farmers. Children were released from school in late spring to help with planting and in fall to help with the harvest. Although today only 3% of our population makes their living in agriculture, this calendar still remains the standard.

As a result, exhilarated school children are freed from their academic responsibilities in June. Parents may not be as thrilled. Along with finding sitters and keeping kids safe, summer learning loss is a concern. Studies have proved that this loss is especially prevalent for students with special needs or of low social economic status.

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Math and spelling skills are most affected – possibly a result of the lack of opportunities to practice. In addition, children who struggle in school often have low self-esteem. That is the bigger issue. I am a firm believer in self-fulfilling prophecy. If a child knows he can succeed, and sees proof of his success, he will have the confidence to continue to do well. As an educator, I believe social skills are as valuable as academic ones. Kids need to interact and communicate appropriately with peers as well as adults.

Most children understand that language in the classroom is different than on the playground. However, recognizing when it is appropriate to use colloquial expressions and when to employ proper English can wane over the summer months.

The solution – summer camps! They are a valuable intervention for academic and social enrichment and a much needed resource for working parents.

Thankfully, they are abundant in the Bay Area and include anything from learning a new language to creating video games. There are also sports camps for children of all abilities and religious camps for just about every religion and denomination.

When deciding, there are a few questions you may want to keep in mind: How much can you afford? Do the hours and weeks available coincide with your schedule? What kind of activities will your child enjoy?

Before you make your final decision, consider visiting the camp, meeting the camp director and talking to other families who have attended.

Summer camps have already started registration, so the time to have a family pow-wow and investigate your options is now. Once your family has made a decision and the kids have been signed up for summer sojourns, you can focus on the end of the school year.

Roman philosopher Seneca wrote, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” Thousands of years later, this ancient adage is still very applicable. It’s not difficult to conclude that children prepared academically as well as socially will have more success. And students who are successful in school are offered more opportunities.

Contact Margaret Lavin at elementarydays@gmail.com.

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