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Editorial: Get your kids to read this summer

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opinion Park Rapids, 56470

Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

Just because it's summer doesn't mean your children's minds have to go on vacation.

There are ways to avoid the "brain drain" that can affect children who spend their whole summer sleeping in late, playing video games, watching TV and complaining that there's nothing to do.

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Research shows that students often forget a lot of what they learned during the previous school year, according to Education Minnesota. There's even a name for it - Summer Learning Loss.

Elementary school students can lose two or more month's worth of math knowledge or reading skills over the summer, education leaders report.

Overcoming the "affliction" uses a familiar concept: Use it or lose it, according to Education Minnesota. Encourage children to keep their minds active during the lazy days of summer. Provide them with new experiences and the opportunity to use their brain power to tackle new challenges.

"The key is to make it fun," said Education Minnesota President Tom Dooher. "It's OK to take a vacation from school, but not from learning. By getting their children into a reading and math routine in the summer, parents will help ensure their students succeed in school. And they'll have fun with their kids in the process."

Dooher suggests these seven tips:

1. Take advantage of nature. Reading or math while walking through the park or visiting a museum won't feel like lessons at all.

2. Find ways to get age-appropriate math skills into your summer routine. Measure things in the yard. Add and subtract while shopping or driving. Do fractions while cooking.

3. Set a good example. Children who see their parents read are far more likely to read themselves.

4. Let your children read what they like to read in the summer. Magazines, short stories or novels - it doesn't matter. Summer reading is about retaining skills, not learning new ones.

5. Plan trips to the library.

6. Read aloud to your children, or ask them to read to you.

7. Encourage your student to write during the summer. Letters to relatives, postcards to friends or journals about their summer experiences work just fine.

So, how much is enough? Research suggests reading as few as six self-selected books per summer will maintain a child's reading skills, Dooher said. Ten to 20 books actually improve those skills.

There's nothing wrong with being a little lazy once in awhile during the summer. Everyone needs some down time to recharge and re-energize. Just make sure it doesn't become a summer-long routine. Your child's future success in school is at stake.

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