Ask a Teacher: What should I do to help my child academically during the rest of the summer?

By Jessica Conte
Can you believe it's already August? How many times has your child picked up a book this summer? Have you worked on math skills with your child? These are two crucial and easy things you can start doing today.
Summer reading is critical for children. Young readers, especially those at-risk or reluctant to choose a book, lose crucial ground over the summer. It's common for teachers to spend at least a month in September re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. If not working on academic skills over the summer, children can lose upwards of 22 percent of their growth made during last school year.
So what can we do about it with the time that we have left? Research done by Anne McGill-Franzen and Richard Allington (2003) suggests that children who read as few as six books over the summer maintain the level of reading skills they achieved during the last school year. Reading more leads to greater success. If children spend the next month reading 10 to 15 self-selected books, as many as 50 percent not only maintain their skills developed at the end of last school year, but also make reading gains.
A study in 1996 by Robert Cooper found that most students lose about two months of mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Fifteen minutes of intentional practice every day can help combat that alarming statistic.
Use your trip to the grocery store as an opportunity to discuss estimation as children write down their estimate of the cost of each item and/or how many bags you'll need at checkout; practice addition/subtraction as you calculate your total cost of groceries, how much change you should receive, and/or creating a word problem using the receipt; demonstrate multiplication in the produce section as you estimate the price of three apples when you know the per pound price.
Additionally, a few good websites for interactive arithmetic lessons are,, and They feature extensive practice on each topic, which allows thorough mastery of the concepts. There are a wide range of lessons from kindergarten through eighth grade level which enables learning and review to prepare your child for fall.
Have a great rest of the summer and happy learning!
Jessica Conte is a Nationally Board Certified teacher, has nine years of teaching experience in Monroe, and is a doctoral student in Educational Leadership at Seattle University. For questions to be answered in future articles, please email Jessica at


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