Making the most of the summer
Officially, summer is here and we are feeling the warm glows of the glorious sunshine; together with a feeling of liberty and hopefully some normality.
At the weekend my husband and I went out for lunch, met up with some friends and walked in the sunshine. All properly done but glorious to feel able to do so.
In a normal year we would be close the end of term, looking forward to the perfect holiday; a magical break after a gruelling schedule of examinations and an extended period of liberty without the restrictive rules or regulation of school.
From an academic point of view summer is a normally a quiet time where students have the opportunity to take a break from the rigours of the school year. This year of course has been so different, making the need for summer activities probably greater than ever.
Here at Mallorca Tutoring Academy we are poised to reopen our doors and encourage those lovely minds to keep active. Let us not forget the effect of doing nothing on the brain.
Gentle continuation of various activities will be the key to success this year.
Encourage your children to start a new book just to keep the cogs going whilst still having fun.
Back in 2013 research conducted by the Institute of Education (IOE) concluded by that children who read for pleasure are likely to do significantly better at school than their peers. The analysis found that children who read for pleasure between the ages of 10 and 16 made more progress in maths, vocabulary and spelling than those who rarely read.
Dr Alice Sullivan, who conducted the work with Matt Brown, noted that reading for pleasure had the strongest effect on children’s vocabulary development but the impact on spelling and maths was still significant.
‘It may seem surprising that reading for pleasure would help improve a child’s maths score’ she said ‘ But, it is likely that a strong reading ability will enable children to absorb and understand new information and affect their attainment in all subjects.’
Dr Sullivan says that this study underlines the importance of encouraging children to read, even in the digital age. ‘There are concerns that young people’s reading has declined. There could be various reasons for this; including more time spent in organised activities, more homework and of course more time on line.’ she said.
At Mallorca Tutoring Academy we constantly encourage all of our students to read for pleasure. Particularly when they are reading in their second language. Our reasons are not just about academic performance; it is critical vocabulary development that the learner needs for everyday life.
In addition we support reading because:
· It increases a sense of achievement, confidence, self-esteem and self-awareness.
· It widens horizons.
· It develops relationships, promotes inclusion and empathy through sharing opinions and ideas.
· It prevents boredom and promotes effective relaxation.
What else is better than to pick up a book amongst swimming and beach time?
Whilst we are not running summer camp this year, for obvious reasons, there may other organisations who have bigger facilities who will still offer this opportunity. At MTA we truly believe that the experience children gain from camp activities is invaluable and the desire to keep active minds through holiday periods is as strong as ever; looking at the response of the children in our own camps over the years a resounding success too.
An effective camp provides the opportunity for children to hone in their life-skills and enhance their cognitive and behavioural development. It is well documented that whilst summer camp can be a power tool for summer learning-loss prevention, it also can benefit your child’s developmental growth. According to the Search Institute, children actually have seven developmental needs:
1 Physical Activity
2 Competence and Achievement
4 Creative Self-Expression
5 Positive Social Interactions
6 Structure and Clear Limits
7 Meaningful Participation
Summer camp can address each of these needs, and can do so in a nurturing, fun environment.
According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, children learn best by engaging in hands-on activities that encourage them to experience the world around them through their senses. In order to address these needs the key activities summer schools encourage fall generally into four categories:
· Critical thinking and problem solving.
· Knowledge and content.
· Learning and memory as the final important step
Brain Drain – On going revision
Over the years one of the most controversial factors in setting the length of the summer holiday is the debate over how much children can forget.
Don’t forget we have had to cope with over 5 months of disturbed education. No doubt this will have had an enormous effect on the brain drain.
It is a known fact that children learn best when instruction is continuous. The long summer holiday breaks the rhythm of instruction which can lead to forgetting and often requires a significant amount of review when students return to school in the autumn.
An American study conducted by Cooper et al (1996) found differences in different skills. Summer knowledge loss was more pronounced for maths facts and spelling. The explanation of this result was that maths and spelling skills involve the acquisition of factual and procedural knowledge and that without practise these are most susceptible to being forgotten.
Finally, something particularly for parents here on the island to consider is that children who speak 2nd or 3rd languages are likely to have their language skills set back during this extended period without practise.
And finally… The dreaded retakes
For some there is also the need to retake some examinations prior to returning to school.
It is much better to do that revision with dedicated, experienced tutors than trying to plough through academic work alone. I hate to think of a student struggling alone cooped up in their rooms when they could benefit from the support a good tutor can offer. Our experience shows that in the end without effective guidance very little learning takes place, particularly if your friends are at the beach! Here at MTA our premises are cool and inviting and our tutors are here to help.
So, whatever you are thinking of doing over the holiday period make the most of your time.
Have an amazing summer; enjoy, be safe and happy.