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Summer is time to sharpen skills

By ELISABETH DYER
Published June 1, 2007


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And so begin the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer - an extra long one for Hillsborough students.

Kids are free until Aug. 20 - the earliest date allowed under a new state law that says school can't start more than 14 days before Labor Day.

Now, what to do with the extra time? Educators say students typically lose a month or two of learned material over the break. They call it the "summer slide."

In my house, we mark the end of the school year with a trip to the bookstore for a new read. I like to patronize small independent stores, such as Inkwood Books. It's a way to set the tone - a slowing of pace, but still moving forward. And in July, we'll be in line for the new Harry Potter release.

Here are more tips to keep your elementary and middle-schoolers' skills sharp.

Cook together. Kids get to measure and mix, an opportunity to learn fractions. You can talk about nutrition, too.

Consider trips to the grocery store as an opportunity to review math skills. Have your child compare costs between brands or keep a tally of the total costs with a calculator.

Write letters to friends or family or to a pen pal. Several online sites connect children from around the globe.

Visit a library. Get them their own cards. Check out the clubs, such as anime art or storytelling.

Do mental math problems. Compete to see who is fastest.

Subscribe to a magazine. Child-targeted topics are becoming more and more prolific. And of course, there's still the children's magazine Highlights, launched in 1946.

Plant a garden. Let your children choose vegetables they like to eat.

Have your child start a book club with a friend. Set a time to talk about the story, either after every few chapters or at the end.

Try a day camp. Camps offered by museums, schools, recreation centers, universities and community-based organizations often have an educational focus.

Going on vacation? Let your children research the destination ahead of time and choose a side trip. Encourage them to read signs and keep a journal along the way.

And of course, I would be remiss to not suggest the newspaper. Pick an age appropriate story to read together or try out a Sudoku puzzle.

[Last modified May 31, 2007, 08:10:21]


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