DEAR TEACHER: I truly understand how important it is to have my children engaged in summer learning activities so they'll start the next school year successfully. I have them enrolled in a variety of programs in our community. How can I be sure that they are in good programs that will stop them from suffering a learning loss this summer? - For Summer Learning
Answer: All educators will applaud your efforts to keep your children involved in learning activities this summer. The Summer Matters campaign (www.summermatters2you.net) has highlighted the following 10 ways for you to know if your children are in a great summer learning program. If your children are in a quality program, you should see:
Kids who are happy and engaged.
Kids who feel safe.
Kids learning by doing.
Kids being creative.
Kids moving and playing.
Kids showing off their learning.
Kids engaged in a wide array of meaningful activities (the arts, sports, science, service, learning, etc.) that are purposeful about learning, complement (but don't repeat) school-day learning, and leverage community, city and school district resources (nonprofits, parks, libraries, museums, universities, etc.).
Staff who are positive and involved.
Staff welcoming parents.
Summer camp spirit.
Don't think that enrolling your children in a quality summer learning program is enough to get them ready for next year in school. More is needed. You should definitely try to give them more summer learning opportunities through enriching experiences. According to the Summer Matters campaign, this means:
Reading to your children or encouraging them to read books recommended by their teachers, your local library and online summer reading lists. And signing them up for your library's Summer Reading Program, which offers incentives for summer reading.
Visiting free local resources that are both entertaining and educational, such as libraries, parks, museums, universities and community centers.
Playing fun math and word games that turn everyday activities into learning opportunities.
Asking your children's teachers, if possible, to recommend online educational worksheets and activities that can be downloaded for free.
Turning off the TV (or at least limiting the amount of screen time). And keeping your children moving with activities that encourage learning as well as physical activity.
Note: These checklists are reprinted with permission from the Summer Matters campaign.
Question: My daughter is just 4. When she talks fast, she frequently can't seem to find the right word to say. Then she throws herself on the floor and is inconsolable for a while. Also, when she starts to say some words, she hesitates and is almost doing what I would call stuttering.
Recently, she was evaluated by the public school's speech therapist, who said there were no serious problems. I believe the therapist said this because of limited funding for therapy. What is the next step? - Speechless
Answer: You should have your child's speech evaluated by a speech language pathologist. Take these results to the school if the pathologist believes there is a serious speech problem requiring therapy and ask for a re-evaluation, as your child may be eligible for free speech therapy.
- Send questions and comments to Dear Teacher, in care of OV Parent Magazine, 1 N. Illinois St., No. 2004, Indianapolis, IN 46204, or log on to www.dearteacher.com, or email DearTeacher@ DearTeacher.com.