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Mrs. Brinker: Helping kids learn over summer break

13New Education Expert shares three tips for parents to help kids keep learning.

GREENWOOD, Indiana — Summer break is here, but that doesn’t mean the learning should stop. WTHR Education Expert Jennifer Brinker has three ideas for parents so they can think like a teacher this summer.


The first point we made on 13Sunrise this week was, "Read, read, and then read some more." 

The best thing that you can do with your child is to work time to read into each and every day. Even 20 minutes can make a big difference. Utilize your local library so you aren’t spending a fortune at the bookstore. Your child needs to try out reading different types of books to find what they really enjoy.  

For your younger kiddos, you are going to read together and talk about the book as you go. Parents should ask basic comprehension questions like, "Where and how?" That way, you know the kids are paying attention and retaining what they read. 

As they get older, reading changes. 

Many people have this notion that once kids hit third or fourth grade, you don’t read aloud with them anymore. This doesn’t need to be the case at all. Your family can transition from those picture books to larger novels, and this is the time to ask some questions that promote that depth of knowledge. You are not at this point just asking those basic "how, when, where" questions, but some tougher "why" questions, as well.

If reading aloud feels odd with your older teen students, you can still carve out that time to be reading in the same room, and that way, you are modeling good habits and still spending time together.


The second major tip for the summer is to help kids explore.

It doesn’t have to be some grand adventure, but your kids will enjoy learning and discovering new things with you. You can head to a local park and go on a walk. Take along a magnifying glass and see how many different kinds of bugs you can identify.  

Head downtown and check out all the different types of architecture. When the school year is in session, we often don’t have the time to just explore and learn about our surroundings, so take the time during summer to do this.


Don’t forget to relax.

This last year was a tough one for all of us. Your kids have had to be more adaptable than ever in our lifetimes, and that has taken a toll on several of them. Sometimes it seems like, as parents, we feel like we are only doing a good job if we pack every ounce of summer with things to do, especially since things are just opening back up.  

But kids need this time to recharge and rest. Let them be bored sometimes. It will force them to be creative. Let them sleep in sometimes because they are growing and need it.  

And let your family enjoy some time just slowing down for a bit.