| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Summer education for kids

A two month break could have a serious impact on your child's brain

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Why should you organise learning activities over the holidays?
Every year there is always a summer drop-off. That means the children experience a drop in their learning skills. That’s why teachers do assessments at the very beginning of the year, rather than relying on the reports from the previous year. The first few weeks of the new term are then spent trying to bring the children back to the level they were at before the summer holidays.

What are the skills the children tend to lose?
Phonics is a big one. You tend to find that children forget the slightly more tricky sounds, as well as reading some of the key words. Maths can be a bit slow too. They won’t forget basic addition and subtraction, but number facts they might have learned the previous term are often forgotten.

Should you establish a learning routine at the start of the hols?
It depends. Some children miss the structure school provides, so establishing a routine straight away is probably a good idea. For older children (from Key Stage Two), it’s good to get them involved in a routine from the word go. Discuss it with them at the beginning of the holidays and let them know that although they are off school, there will be times when they are expected to do some learning activities.

That’s not always easy with little ones, though
True. This is why I advise parents of younger children to look for opportunities that will involve them in writing, rather than making it an obvious learning session. Activities like compiling a shopping list, counting vegetables in the supermarket, writing postcards to friends if you go on holiday and making birthday cards, are all great ways to encourage them to use their skills. Even things like baking a cake and reading the recipe together is learning.

Some parents enlist tutors over the summer. Is this something we should all consider?
In Dubai, a lot of parents aren’t around over the summer because they are both working. If you know you’re not going to be able to spend much time with your child, and there won’t be many opportunities for activities, then yes, enlisting the help of a tutor is probably a good idea. However, if you’re going to be able to dedicate time to your children, I wouldn’t consider it a necessity.

Should children dedicate a certain amount of time to learning per week?
For parents who know their child is struggling, establishing set times for practising numeracy and literacy skills is a sensible idea. But if your child is progressing well, the argument could be you’re going on holiday and you’re visiting some really exciting places, and all of that is a learning experience which you can make the most of by adding a few carefully chosen tasks. In general, children learn better through experiences anyway.

Time Out Dubai,

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