Isn’t it nice to just sleep the whole day, watch tv anytime, play computer games, play your favorite sports, hang out with friends, visit places, do nothing? Why not, it’s summer vacation! Those were my childhood days, but a lot of parents now realize the importance of making sure kids have stimulating activities to do this summer vacation.

There are over a hundred options to keep your child busy with learning opportunities this summer. However, remember to include reading, writing and math in his daily routine to maintain skills and knowledge learned in school and prepare your child for the following school year. Research found that students lose up to three months of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation. Sylvan Learning Centers say that about 80 percent of content retention is lost after a month unless new information is reinforced or applied immediately. I don’t doubt this research at all because I experienced learning loss as a child.

As I was playing tag with my brothers in our front yard one summer day, suddenly it dawned on me that I couldn’t recall a single fact taught during the past school year! I have such a vivid memory of that day because of the realization of all that time wasted. It didn’t do well for my self-esteem either. (Of course, I was in Grade 3 and didn’t know any better.)

Before a child can happily do “homework” in summer, it is important for a child to understand the relevance and benefits of learning, not only during school days but every day, including vacations. A child should not think of attending school merely as a kid’s responsibility. When a child thinks of school as a chore, he will most probably not excel and just want to get over and done with it. A lack of purpose will make him forget much of the valuable skills and knowledge that they have mastered during the school year.

When a child understands how school will help him achieve his goals, he will be more engrossed to learn as much as he can. Don’t dismiss a child’s dreams no matter how trivial. For example, if he loves to catch and observe bugs, subtle talk how going to school will help him learn how to sort bugs, how Phys. Ed. will help him grow strong and dexterous to enable him to catch those elusive bugs, how reading will help him memorize and say scientific names correctly, or learn more about the countries where those exotic bugs in his bug book come from. Who knows, your bug enthusiast might become a brilliant scientist in the future.

Oftentimes a child cannot see how reading, writing, and doing his math packet daily can help him with his career later in life. Reading now can increase his reading speed and help him be more productive at work.

Writing activities can help him be more competitive in coming up with well thought of reports and impressive portfolio. And good writing skills are oftentimes essential in garnering a higher paying job.

As for math, it is considered a difficult subject for many students, because it often takes patience and persistence to master. Math concepts build upon the ones that come before; it is important to have a good foundation.

If your child was struggling in math the past school year, it is beneficial to start with a workbook at this grade level before proceeding to the next grade level. If your child was failing, he may have to go even further back to review and practice more basic concepts to help him build a good foundation and succeed in math.

It is not always easy to make sure kids do their work considering the attractiveness of new technology and other entertainment. Here are some tips in helping kids to accomplish their summer reading, writing, and math activities:

Let your child establish a study routine. This means it has to be the same time every day. It is a good rule for screen time to be scheduled after work has been done.

Portable technology like tablets and cell phones can be placed at a central location and you can let the kids retrieve it once their work is done. It is a good idea to place it back to that location right before bedtime.

If your child loves to watch tv or play computer, make him earn screen time by accomplishing reading and writing activities, and completing math worksheets.

Set a maximum screen time per day like 4 hours, for example. Introduce them to documentaries.

• If he wants to do more work over the maximum screen time he can earn, you can let him earn extra money from it instead, for example, 25 cents for every hour of reading with a written summary or chapter highlights.

• If it is not possible to do these activities on a daily basis, it is best to spread out the activity for the whole summer. It is not a good idea to let your child cram into doing it the week before school starts. Cramming makes what they learn go into short-term memory which is easily forgotten. It also teaches your child the wrong outlook on studying.

By Chacha Tumbokon