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MU Expert: Help Kids Stay Sharp During Summer Break, Don't Overdo It

Parents should not try to act like classroom teachers during the summer

June 5, 2007

Story Contact:  JenniferFaddis, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The school year is ending, and with summer break comes the fear that children will forget what they have learned. While students will lose some of their knowledge during the summer months, parents can help by creating everyday learning experiences. However, an education professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia said it is critical that parents avoid going overboard.

“Don't overdo it, or kids will get turned off and tune out,” said Dick Robinson, professor in the MU College of Education's Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum. “We are not suggesting that parents try to become classroom teachers during the summer.”

Parents are a child's most important teacher; however, parents should not try to create a school type environment during the summer.

“Any type of experience can be a learning experience,” Robinson said. “Have a child read the menu and order for themselves at a restaurant. Take children to the library and participate in a summer reading program; take children to local and regional places of interest. Show children that learning is not just a classroom experience.”

Robinson suggests activities for fostering learning that have a minimal or no cost:

  • Create a home library for children to enjoy. It can consist of books found at garage sales.
  • Make use of the newspaper as a fun learning tool. Cut a comic strip into squares and have the child put it back in order.
  • Ask a child what he or she is thinking about and spark a creative dialogue.
  • Visit local or regional spots of historical interest.
  • Play word games and point out signs while traveling.

“Give children the opportunity to be free and creative,” Robinson said. “Unfortunately, we often discourage creativity, but parents really need to allow it to take place.”