What to Do When Summer Gets Boring
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Read books aloud together. Choral reading focuses attention in kids with attention deficits. It provides moral support for shy ones, oral support for stuttering ones, and motivation for those who are reluctant to read. If it is done after a discussion about a character, it makes the character's personality resonate with life. If it's poetry you read together, Harry gets the benefit of hearing rhyme, rhythm, and the beat of language, which will smooth his oral reading skills and enliven his writing. Choral reading works, too, for primary-grade kids or those new to English because it reinforces phonics, pronunciation, and the rules of punctuation. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day provides an entertaining and nontaxing way to keep reading skills sharp all summer long.
Practice handwriting. Though the computer is taking over much of what was once handwritten, there are still critical times, like on standardized tests, when kids of all ages need to put pencil to paper and make legible, meaningful marks. If Harry has a problem with his handwriting, don't let this important skill fall by the wayside, even if he is in high school. Poor handwriting skills can have a negative effect on an elementary school student's self-concept. An inability to write smoothly can also affect a young one's desire to compose his thoughts on paper. Hairy handwriting, like stinky spelling, gives a false impression about an otherwise dazzling kid, no matter his age.
- For preschool and elementary level. Do some old-fashioned handwriting activities for 10-15 minutes each day. They help primary graders develop small-muscle control and improve eye-hand coordination. Have Harry make letter garlands across a page of lined paper. Start with one letter at a time, like a whole row of loops that look like the letter e linked together. Make a bigger garland using loops that look like the letter L. Make garlands with points like in the letters t, u, and v, or humpy garlands with shapes that look like the letters n and m. Kids begin by making two or three letters together and work up to four or five. This is an excellent exercise for beginning writers and those making the move, typically in second or third grade, into cursive writing.
- Grades three and above. Investigate calligraphy. This stylistic writing demands good small-muscle control, posture, and breath control. Colored markers with a wide tip or a piece of chalk held at a forty-five-degree angle will help kids easily achieve the characteristic thin and thick lines of calligraphy.
- High school: Though you might never get an older Harry to make garlands or write in calligraphy, you can get him to practice his handwriting over the summer. Insist that he leave written notes about where he is going and when he'll be home. Ask him to write you a note to remind you that you need to take him to the dentist tomorrow, and tell him you'll remember better if he writes the details. If in these notes, you see that he consistently misspells a word, leave him a note that includes that word spelled correctly.
More on: Summer Learning
From Teacher Says by Evelyn Porreca Vuko. Copyright © 2004. Used by arrangement with Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
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