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5 simple summer ideas to prepare for 3rd grade success

Prevent summer brain drain

Imagine a child entering the third grade prepared to excel beyond their classmates. Wouldn't it be amazing to see all kids' transition effortlessly into the third grade?

The truth of the matter is that most families "take the summer off", preventing their third grader from maintaining learning continuity that is so important to their success. Any expert will agree there are a few simple things every family can do this summer to keep their focus on learning and prepare them for 3rd grade success.

1. Celebrate their success. The school year they just completed was almost 10% of their total life span. Imagine how long it must have felt to them? Successfully completing the second grade is an accomplishment that should be celebrated. Take time to recognize their accomplishment in a manner that's special to them. Recognize what they were able to achieve and shower praise on them for doing so.

2. Spend time with them. It was a long school year with plenty of homework, after school activities, sick and snow days and other challenges for parents as well. The weather is nice and it seems there are so many new demands on our time. Many parents feel they deserve a "summer break" and make the mistake of allowing friends, camps and other programs to fill their child's summer. Third graders need attention and time from their parents. They need to know that they are loved and that they will always be there for them. Praise them generously and always compliment them for their efforts. Use the summer as an opportunity to explore new places, do new things and experience life - together.

3. Challenge them physically. Use the warm weather as an excuse to get physical. Today's children spend more than enough time indoors - watching TV, playing video games, working on the computer. Help them develop a love for the outdoors, for physical activity and for the challenge of competition. Don't start planning their Olympic debut or All Star status just yet, but get them involved in activities that challenge their physical limits. If they can swim, encourage them to join the swim team. If they like to run, encourage them to enter a race. If they play soccer, baseball or other organized sport, encourage them to teach their skills to a younger sibling or neighbor. Help create interests, skills and habits that will keep them healthy for life.

4. Read aloud to them daily. Third graders learn about different types of punctuation (commas, question marks, exclamation marks, etc.). It's important for them to learn how to use expression and punctuation to give meaning to the text. One way to do this is to continue to read aloud to them -- remember how nice it was to cuddle up with them for a bed time story? If they'll allow it, do it until they think it's for "little kids". It's also a good way to bond with them. Encourage them to read aloud from familiar books. This will help increase their reading speed, comprehension and confidence. Newspapers and magazines are also good for practicing reading. Reading articles will also help them learn about the world they live in and provide some good topics for family discussions at the dinner table. Help them practice reading just like they would practice a sport or musical instrument.

5. Understand their learning style. Everyone has a style in which they learn and process new information best and most efficiently. There are three main types of learning: Visual (Eyes), Auditory (Ears), Physical (Touch). A child's default learning style is pretty easy to determine. Watch their behavior when they are presented with a new piece of information. Which of the three learning styles do they use most? Identifying their learning style may be the single most important factor in determining their success in school. Studies have shown that accommodating their learning style can significantly improve their performance in school