Summer lessons

By Greg Whitby, 11 December 2019
Greg Whitby AM is Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta.


Weekly Column from the Executive Director of Schools, Diocese of Parramatta

Did you know that some research suggests students lose a whole month of progress in their learning during the school holidays? We call this Summer learning loss, dropback or slide, and it’s thought to make even more of a difference to kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and older students.

There are lots of ways to keep young minds active during the break and I’m not suggesting homeschool or tutoring. This is a chance to think about what our kids learn at home, especially when it comes to values and skills. It’s easy to forget that we are showing our children how to live, from the way we treat others to how we use our time.

What could you teach your child these holidays? Say you show them how to cook your signature dish…they’re picking up skills in comprehension, communication, collaboration, numeracy and so much more. They’re also learning about love and family: that’s why Masterchef contestants always cry when they talk about how nan taught them to cook!

By sharing with them the things you know, whether it’s how to hit the Boxing Day sales or an encyclopaedic knowledge of cricket trivia, they’ll also be learning how to learn. They’ll develop a sense of how capable they are, and that there are things they can teach us too. My children and grandkids have certainly taught me many life lessons!

Something my mum schooled me in many summers ago was to always have a book handy. A great reader, she liked to say “You’ll never be lonely with a good book”. I’m not sure my dad appreciated this life lesson when I was caught mowing the lawn and reading at the same time!

In this spirit, find out what your child likes to read these holidays. If they don’t, what are they interested in? There’s sure to be a book about it, and this can be a great way into reading. Visit the local library together, and borrow something for you too. After all, what better gift is there than learning, whether for Christmas or for life?

Greg Whitby AM
Executive Director of Schools – Diocese of Parramatta


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