Five Easy Steps To Help Parents Keep Their Child's Learning On Track

03/05/2017 16:22 BST | Updated 03/05/2017 16:22 BST

The summer term has kicked off in earnest and schools are once again gearing up for what can be one of the busiest times in the academic year.

High on the 'to do' list is preparing for the long summer holiday - yes, schools are already planning the measures they will put in place to prevent pupils from experiencing summer learning loss, the fall back in progress that can occur when children are away from school for long periods of time.

So, if schools are already preparing for the summer, what plans should parents be putting in place to prevent their child's progress from taking a dip after the final bell rings at the end of term?

Here are five top tips from the heads and teachers I visit.

1. Start chatting to your child about keeping a diary

Creative writing provides a great opportunity to help younger children to keep their handwriting or IT skills up to scratch. Why not encourage them to start a diary? You could go out shopping for a special note book or file they can decorate and use to record their experiences. Starting them off now will make it much more likely that they will continue throughout the summer break.

They could also make a video of their favourite diary entry on a mobile phone or tablet device, which can be shared with their teacher.

A diary is a good way to encourage teenagers to become more aware of how much time they are spending on social media, gaming or in front of the television too, if you have any concerns about that.

2. Get them reading more, for pleasure

Just 10 minutes of reading every day can have a considerable impact on your child's achievement in school, according to research carried out by the Oxford University Press. Check your child's most recent reading level with the school and agree a list of books with their teacher that you think would challenge and excite them. You can then borrow the books from the school or local library and read regularly with your child, into and throughout the summer break.

To make things a little more exciting, you could help your child to design a summer literacy calendar decorated with their favourite things or a treasure map they can follow by ticking off 10 minute reading slots each day, with a reward when they reach the end. This can be a great way to help them to maintain their reading skills throughout the holiday period.

3. Make the most of your time together

There's always an opportunity to learn while your child is having fun. A trip to the zoo could spark a conversation about mammals and a weekend at the beach is a great way for you to help your child keep their knowledge of changes in the landscape fresh or discuss the impact of global warming.

Regardless of where you might be heading for the summer break - from the local leisure centre to Leicester or Lanzarote - plan ahead to make the most of this time and support their learning while you're doing it.

Some schools share information with parents online throughout the academic year relating to the topics their pupils are working on. If your child's school provides this service, it could help you plan your activities to match with what they are learning or keep them from slipping behind over the summer if they are coming up to their GCSE years.

4. Shape what's going on at school

It's worth making contact with the PTA or student council and get involved in discussions about what clubs and activities your child's school should run. Most schools will be starting to develop ideas about what opportunities to offer pupils over the summer months and will welcome your suggestions.

Find out what else is going on in your area too. A number of independent schools I know regularly open their doors in the summer months to give local children the chance to try activities they might not have had a go at before, such as kayaking, playing chess or singing in a choir. Most schools will also be putting their summer programmes together right now so make sure you find out what's going to be on offer.

5. Make time for down time

There is a lot parents can do to help keep their children's learning progress on track through each stage in the academic year and into the holidays. But it's also important for your child to have time to reconnect with friends and family when school is closed, so bear this in mind as you plan your summer pursuits. A little learning sprinkled in with some fun and relaxation can go a long way when it comes to boosting a child's achievement.

If your child's school would like more information on SIMS Independent, we recommend they visit http://www.capita-independent.co.uk/parentpower