Faithful Blogger

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Prayerful Teaching is Preventing Summer Learning Loss

O Lord, blessed is the person
    whom you discipline and instruct from your teachings.
You give him peace and quiet from times of trouble
    while a pit is dug to trap wicked people.

Psalm 94:12-13(GW)

Prayer and Meditation

Summer learning loss is a reality for all students, no matter the grade level, no matter the income level.  Let me be proactive in preventing this loss for my students so that what I have been called to instruct and they have been called to learn over the last year will not be lost.   With your help, I can instruct my students and their parents on how to make this summer a summer of learning opportunities.  Most important, Lord, I ask you to give my students and their families a summer of peace and quiet from times of trouble. 

The Actions of Prayerful Teaching

  • Award parents the power to engage their children in learning opportunities.  Many parents are busy earning a living and meeting their children’s basic needs.  They may not be aware of learning opportunity available in the community for their children.  Notices going home about such programs may not capture their attention as they multi-task just to keep their homes running smoothly.  A personal phone call concerning one recommended program may be all that is needed to help stop summer learning loss.  Avoid “teacher talk,” but do explain what happens to a child’s learning over the summer and why you are recommending this one particular program.  Offer assistance in filling out forms, including transportation forms, and enrollment forms.  Place follow-up phone calls.  It is far better to concentrate on and work deeply with two or three families than to make a dozen quick, “Do you know about…?” or “I’ll send you the form ….” phone calls.

    • Compile a list of activities students can engage in over the summer.  Keep the list practical, home-centered, child centered, age appropriate, and expense free.  Always be mindful that some parents cannot spend a lot of time on one-on-one learning activities.  Others do not have the time or money for museum visits, a day at the zoo, or cultural events.  Some ideas follow:

    • Start a weekly family newsletter.  (This can include drawings, stories, neighborhood happenings etc.)  After a parent reads it, it can be passed around to other family members and friends, perhaps mailed and ending up in the hands of a relative or family friend who lives some distance away.

    • Practice organizational skills.  Anything inside or outside the house can be organized from blades of grass to pennies.  For example, pick one-hundred blades of grass.    How many ways can you figure out to organize them?  Size? Color? Width?   Organize pennies by year.  Which year is the most popular for pennies?

    • Keep a personal diary.  Each evening write in it the activities you engaged in, who you played with, and how you helped someone have a better day.  Include the times you were quiet during the day.

    •  Keep a list of specific acts of kindness performed each day.  For whom was it performed?  What was the specific act of kindness?  How do you think the recipient of the kindness felt?  How did you feel?  How did it give both of you a sense of peace?

  • Wait to reach out to students until after they have settled into summer vacation.  With so many end-of-the-school-year tasks to complete for both teachers and students, the last couple of weeks of school may not be the best time to delve into ways to prevent summer learning loss.  One to two weeks after summer vacation has begun may be the optimal time to approach the subject.  Boredom may be setting in, parents may already be praying for school to begin again, and children’s brains may be aching for new challenges.  You may also be missing the hustle and bustle of classroom life.  Dedicate one day to the Lord.  During that day reach out to parents and children in a personal manner.  Ask them how their summer is proceeding.  Share ways in which summer learning loss may be circumvented.  Offer to send booklists, a list of summer learning activities, or help with enrollment into a summer program.

  • Work with the local public library to develop a list of books student will enjoy reading over the summer.  Keep in mind that researchers at the University of Michigan have found that for every one line of print read by low-income children over the summer, middle-income children read three. The books on the list should be “fun” reading and not look like textbooks.  The objective is to keep students reading, not necessarily to pour more information and standards into their heads.  That is not to say books about math, science, social studies, or other academic subjects should not be on the list.  Students learn best when knowledge arises indirectly out of the freedom of joy, personal creativity, and fun.  A must for any “list” and perhaps the most important part of the list is a section directing children to discover the hidden treasures in the library and informing them how to select reading choices of their own.

  • Consider sending an early newsletter to your future students.  Address it to the students, not the parents or guardians.  Present ways in which students can prepare for their upcoming studies.  Keep the newsletter lighthearted, grade-level appropriate, easy to read and comprehend, and upbeat.  Follow attention getting protocols such as including sufficient white space, a large enough font, and illustrations.  Though more time consuming and expensive, snail mail makes this much more effective than an e-mail attachment.  It is always special to receive posted, personal mail rather than be a part of an e-mail list.

God Bless and Prayerful Teaching,

Elizabeth A. Wink

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