School Skill
Sharpeners

by Louise Hajjar Diamond

Summer is a wonderful time for kids to relax without school-year stresses. Yet research has shown that without practicing their skills, kids typically lose a month or more of learning during the summer.

Encouraging your kids to read books helps, but that’s just a start. Here are some skills parents can review with children before they return to school to help build their confidence and sharpen their minds.

If your child is entering…

Kindergarten: Review the alphabet and all the sounds. Your child can practice writing his name with upper and lower case letters. Review numbers from 0 to 20. Read to your child daily. Practice taking turns and reinforce how to get along with peers. Encourage listening and sitting.

1st Grade: Read to your child daily. Practice writing your child’s first and last name. Review short vowel sounds. Review sight words from kindergarten. Sight words are frequently used words that can’t be sounded out by young students; they have to be memorized.

Sight word lists are often handed out by kindergarten teachers, but you can find a list of them, the Dolch List, at www.english-zone.com/reading/dolch.html.

2nd Grade: Practice adding and subtracting one and two digits, telling time and money math. Count change to $1. Review addition and subtraction from 1 to 20.

Read to and listen to your child read daily. Review sight words from 1st grade and long and short vowel sounds.

Also, ask your child to answer comprehension questions. For example, ask her to tell you the sequence of events in a story — what happened first, in the middle and end. As your child reads, ask her to make predictions of what might happen next or how she thinks a character might be feeling about something that happened.

3rd Grade: Read for 20 minutes daily. Practice adding and subtracting one and two digits, telling time and counting money. Practice multiplication facts for 2’s and 5’s. Twos and fives are relatively easy since most students can count by twos and fives. Having mastered these by 3rd grade will build confidence before school starts.

4th Grade: Practice multiplication and division facts from 1 to 12. Practice cursive writing and using a dictionary.

5th Grade: Review the four basic operations of math: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Practice multiplication and division facts from 1 to 12. Review addition and subtraction facts for 1 through 25. Read daily. Review English grammar basics such as capitalization, indenting, spelling and punctuation. Practice writing in cursive.

6th Grade: Make sure your child has good reading comprehension. Encourage your child to read what interests him. For example, if your child likes baseball, encourage reading biographies of famous players. Have your child tell you about the player’s life once he is finished reading the book. Encourage your child to read non-fiction such as history or another subject you are familiar with so you can discuss the topic and the book. Brush up on organization habits before starting middle school.

7th and 8th Grades: Good study skills are the key to success for older students. Students should plan for school success by focusing on good study habits. These include listening in class, knowing what is expected from each subject and teacher, making a homework plan and keeping up with assignments and test preparation. Discuss how important these skills are with your child this summer.

Grades 9-12: Discuss goals for the upcoming school year with your teen. Make sure your child understands the graduation requirements and that grades are cumulative starting from day one of freshman year.

Academics are paramount, but also encourage your teen to be involved in athletics, music, service clubs and community volunteering. All of these activities will help build a strong résumé for college or post secondary education. Encourage study habits and setting priorities. Provide structure while letting your teen become independent and responsible.

Louise Hajjar Diamond is a guidance counselor and freelance writer.