Column: Summer strategies for a better school year


Commentary by Karen M. Wheeler, MD



While summer break always seems to fly by, there’s still enough time for children to forget some of what they learned during the school year. Here are some summer strategies parents can use to help make the transition back to class easier for kids this fall.

Reading. Most local libraries have fun, incentive-based summer reading programs that begin shortly after the school year ends. In addition, ask each family member to set a personal summer reading goal (number of pages or number of books) and plan a fun end-of-summer outing as a reward. Local teacher Deb Krupowicz suggests that families practice “shared reading,” in which parents and children take turns reading pages or chapters aloud.

Writing. If your family takes a summer vacation, encourage older kids to keep a written journal of the experience. They can include photos and descriptions of places visited. For younger children, tracing objects on paper and completing dot-to-dot or maze activities can help strengthen fine motor skills.

Math. Grab some flash cards, and head to the park with your child one or two times a week. Practice math facts for 20 minutes and then spend time playing together. This way, kids can brush up on math and get exercise at the same time. There are also free online resources to help children of all ages review math skills.

Besides academics, there are other steps parents can take during the summer to help kids prepare for back to school. Keeping a regular sleep schedule is important for everyone, especially children. While there will be days when maintaining a regular routine isn’t possible due to activities or vacations, make it a priority for your child to go to bed and awaken at about the same time each day.

For good health, also encourage children and adolescents to do at least one hour of vigorous exercise (that breaks a sweat) most days of the week. It doesn’t have to be structured physical activity – riding a bike, swimming and most forms of outdoor play are all good ways for kids to get exercise during the summer.

Karen M. Wheeler, MD, is a pediatrician at Riley Physicians Pediatrics – Zionsville, located at 1650 W. Oak St., Ste. 210, in Zionsville. Dr. Wheeler is a guest columnist and can be reached by calling the office at 873.8855.