Summer is a fantastic opportunity to stretch your child’s mind in directions it can’t go during the rest of the school year. There are many different ways to do this. Take a look at a few of the options below and find what works best for your kid.
Read, Read, Read
This is an easy one, but something most people overlook. It’s no coincidence that students who read the most are also the ones who do best in their exams. In fact, the British Cohort study (which has been following thousands of people for several decades) found that frequent reading increases a child’s spelling, vocabulary and maths results.
In order to keep learning over summer, it’s vital for a child to read. Try to push yours to read more challenging text than they tackle during term time. However, don’t do this at the expense of enjoyment – it’s more important that they read than what they read.
Summer is a great time to catch up on any subjects your child is falling behind in. It might feel unkind to push them back into Chinese or maths straight after they’ve struggled through exams in these subjects, but they’ll feel the benefit when they return to school next year on a strong footing.
Make this catch-up project fun by gathering a group of your child’s friends together for it. Many tutorial centres will let you form a private group if you meet their minimum student number for a class. If you follow these lessons with lunch in the park, they’ll become a fun part of the holiday with fantastic long-term benefits.
In Hong Kong’s hyper-academic environment, it can be easy to forget that there are other subjects outside those on the standard curriculum. However, schools in the rest of the world offer a wider range of subjects and put more stress on the ones we’d consider peripheral. In this global economy, it’s important to consider what students are learning elsewhere and ensure your child is competitive on the world stage.
Choose something unusual which your child has expressed an interest in, such as robotics, baking, psychology or drama, and find a course for them to follow this summer. Even if you can’t locate a class here in Hong Kong, you’re sure to find something online. Encouraging your child to follow their interests is also going to have great long-term benefits, as they’ll become more self-motivated and strengthen their passion for learning.
Building up Soft Skills
Summer is a great time to work on the soft skills which will equip your child for future success. These skills are hard to improve amidst the stress of term time, but summer affords many opportunities to develop better motivation, decisiveness, flexibility and more. Soft skills are most easily taught by example, so take some time this summer to model these for your kids.
A great way to do this is by learning things as a family over the holidays. You could focus on one new activity (such as horse-riding, playing an instrument, or painting) and practise together regularly. Or you could take it in turns to choose something small that you learn together each week (such as origami, touch-typing or magic tricks), and even try teaching each other. Pick things you know will meet the strengths of different people in your family, so you can praise these. Also, make sure to deal positively with any struggles, so your child can see how rewarding perseverance is.
By choosing some of these options for your child this summer, you’re sure to give them a fun and stimulating few weeks. I hope you enjoy seeing your young learner flourish as much as my colleagues and I do!
Willow Hewitt is the Head of English for i-Learner Education Centre. She has been teaching in Hong Kong for several years.