10 months forward, 1 month back

The Reality of Summer Learning Loss and What You Can Do to Stop It

For most adults, summertime brings back childhood memories of family vacations, swimming in the neighborhood pool, or chasing the ice cream truck down the street. It’s great to reminisce about all the fun things you did over the summer as a kid, but have you ever tried to think about what you forgot? According to a study conducted by the RAND Corporation in 2011, students lose approximately one month of math and reading knowledge during summer vacation. Luckily, there are many options for parents who want to create a bridge from June to September that doesn’t involve worksheets and vocabulary lists. A child’s brain needs stimulation in order to grow and it’s important to show your child that learning is something that takes place everywhere – not just in the classroom.

Summer learning loss is a topic that has been well researched and documented over the last several decades yet school districts have been slow to adjust the traditional calendar to address the needs of students. A two month break from school forces teachers to spend valuable time re-establishing classroom procedures, administering diagnostic tests, and reviewing academic material that students have forgotten. Research has also shown that the growing population of English language learners falls even further behind their classmates when they return to school the following year. In spite of this information, only 10% of public schools follow a year round schedule that shortens summer break and spreads out vacations over the course of the year. So what can you do to make sure that your child continues moving forward instead of becoming another victim of the “summer slide?” Finding productive activities for children during the summer months isn’t as challenging as it might first appear.

Opportunities for learning are all around us. Follow a recipe to bake a cake and use measuring cups to teach your child about fractions and quantities. Plant a garden in your backyard and turn it into a lesson about nature, weather, and the life cycle of vegetables. Set up an art studio in your living room and watch as your child learns about colors through painting. Most communities are full of affordable (or free!) stimulating resources that parents can take advantage of. Go on a trip to the zoo and take turns reading signs and identifying animals. Visit your local library often and let your child pick out a book to read to you. Spend an afternoon at a park, museum, or aquarium and simply allow your child to explore. Later that evening, ask him to write a story or draw a picture about what he saw.

To meet the needs of parents who want to ensure that their children continue learning year round, many summer camps are moving away from capture the flag, basket weaving, and sing-alongs. This new brand of academic summer camps focus on hands on learning experiences in a specific subject area and also offer the opportunity for children to interact with peers in their age group. Do you have a future marine biologist at home? Scientist? Artist? Computer whiz? Musician? No matter what your child’s passion is, there are camps out there that will pique his or her interest while developing critical thinking skills, building academic confidence, and encouraging creativity that will carry over into the classroom next fall. Make sure to do your research because different camps will have different educational philosophies. Additionally, some camps will provide feedback to parents about what campers do on a daily basis.

Another way to stimulate the mind of your child during the summertime is through the use of technology. Fortunately for parents, technology is more accessible and affordable than ever, making it possible for children to learn at home through interactive educational apps. Some games have become so advanced that they respond to your child’s performance by increasing difficulty as certain skills are mastered. One app in particular, Agnitus, stands out from the rest because it provides detailed report cards to parents that show their child’s progress in specific areas. Parents who want to keep their children learning over the summer would be wise to use learning apps to introduce academic concepts through visually stimulating and engaging games.

 By Matt Freid 

Introducing Teacher’s Controls!

Agnitus knows that a teacher’s day doesn’t end when the last bell rings. We are proud to introduce our newest feature ”Teacher’s Controls.” Teacher’s Controls gives both teachers and parents the ability to control what games and skills students work on whether they are using Agnitus in the classroom or at home. Have some of your students already mastered their letters but continue to play alphabet games? Simply disable letter games for those students so that they can focus on math. Reward students who reach their goals by turning on Icky Bathtime! Teacher’s Tab puts more power in the hands of teachers and helps students get the most out of Agnitus.

Subscription FAQs

Today we rolled out a new release of Agnitus that introduces a monthly subscription model so we can continue to build world-class curriculum based games and academic skills for your child’s growth.

Below are the FAQs which will help you clarify most of your queries.

Q) I am an existing user, how does the new subscription affect me?
All the games and skills that you had unlocked or purchased will continue to remain available to you.
You will be able to try out all “new” features and games during the 7-days trial period.  New features and games will not be available after the trial period is over.

Q) I had made InApp purchases in Agnitus, what happens to them?
All the InApp purchases that you had made will continue to remain available to you.

Q) I had unlocked InApp purchases via Facebook Share or by inviting friends,what happens to them?

All the InApp purchases that you had unlocked via Facebook Share or by inviting friends will continue to remain available to you.

Q) I had unlocked Agnitus using Facebook Share, but with the new update they are now locked?
If after the app update, previously unlocked skills are not showing up, please contact us at support@agnitus.com or learn more about how to restore previous purchases on our support portal.

Q) I had purchased Agnitus InApp purchases, but with the new update they are now locked?
If after the app update, previously purchased skills are not showing up, please contact us at support@agnitus.com or learn more about how to restore previous purchases on our support portal.

Q) What do I get with monthly subscription plan?
- Uninterrupted Learning Experience:  Your child advances through curriculum at their own pace and skill level by having access to all current skills as well as upcoming curriculum.
- Online Backup:  Protects your child’s learning data from accidental deletion of the app.
- Sync:  Automatically sync your child’s data across your iPhone & iPad.
- Multiple Child Profiles:  Create and track each child’s performance separately.
- Monitor Performance: Access your child’s data on the web and receive weekly emails on performance of you child.

Q) I do not want to sign up for monthly subscription?
Your child can continue to play free games.   The app will continue to loop through the games and skills that are free.  To access additional academic skills and curriculum monthly subscription will be required.

Q) I am an existing user of Agnitus.  What happens after 7-days, if I do not sign up for monthly subscription?
Your child can continue to play the free games and any games that you had unlocked in the past.   The app will continue to loop through the games and skills that are unlocked.  To access additional academic skills and curriculum monthly subscription will be required.

Q) What happens if I do not renew monthly subscription?
Your child can continue to play the free games and any games that you had unlocked in the past.   The app will continue to loop through the games and skills that are unlocked.  To access additional academic skills and the curriculum monthly subscription will be required.

Q) What happens if my monthly or trial subscription expire?
Your child can continue to play the free games and any games that you had unlocked in the past.   The app will continue to loop through the games and skills that are unlocked.  All the features and benefits of the monthly subscription will be locked.

Q) Why did you introduce monthly subscription?
With a monthly subscription, the child has access to full Agnitus program, advancing through the curriculum at their own pace and skill level.In-App purchases interrupt a child’s learning progression.  It requires, that the InApp purchase be made before a child can access the curriculum that is appropriate for them.

 

Update Your Agnitus App Today! New Games, Skills and Features

 

Dear Parents,

Agnitus is proud to announce an awesome update to our learning app!

  • Number Line: Buzz up and down a number line made of flowers to learn addition, subtraction, and other basic math skills.
  • Shapes Coloring: Discover the inner artist in your child while he or she learns about shapes through coloring.
  • Teacher Tab: A powerful tool to help manage student learning.
  • Improved Data Sync: Now your child’s progress is automatically synchronized across all your devices.
 Update your app today on the App Store by clicking here: www.agnitus.com/download
How to Win the Battle at Bedtime

How to Win the Battle at Bedtime

Putting your child to bed at night doesn’t have to be a nightmare.  Most parents are all too familiar with the “bedtime battle” that occurs when a child simply does not want to go to bed. What can you do to put bedtime problems to rest once and for all? Follow these tips to create a bedtime reading routine that your child will look forward to every evening.

1. Let them choose the book

Put together a selection of three to five books for your child to choose from. Include his or her favorite bedtime story even if you read it every night last week. The predictability of the story will help your child relax and fall asleep.

2. Make sure they are comfortable

It’s a beautiful sight when you look up after reading the last page of a book and your child is already asleep. Position yourself so that your son or daughter can see the pictures and follow along while lying down. Find your child’s favorite blanket or stuffed animal and put it in the bed ahead of time.

3. Get into it

Enthusiasm is contagious! If you’re excited about reading a story, your child will be excited about hearing it. Change your voice for different characters, make funny faces, and add sound effects to help the story come alive.

4. Ask questions

Reading should be interactive. Discussing the book with your child will make him feel like a part of the story. Ask questions such as: “What’s happening in this picture?  How do you think that makes him feel? Can you guess what will happen next?”

5. Allow them to read

Children imitate everything they see their parents do. If you read to your child every night, before long she will want to start reading herself. When this happens, it’s time to celebrate! You’ve taken the first step toward raising a child who loves books and is on the way to developing a lifelong passion for reading.

By Matt Freid

On Olympian Development and Learning Skills

Did your children find time to watch a few Olympians recently?  If so, what did your children enjoy about them?  Among families we know, children found the athletes inspiring, and well they should!

Many of us marvel at the poise and control of men and women as they swim, dive, run, vault, volley, and perform other nearly miraculous feats of courage and discipline.  One of my children is now inspired to take fencing lessons, and another has developed fresh vigor for badminton.

Perhaps inspired by all that athletic prowess, during the Olympics, busy parents found time for a little more exercise.  Physical activity is very good for the brain at all ages.  Becoming really good at anything, takes considerable discipline, and sustaining a truly demanding level of engagement. The strict training expected of great athletes, is accepted as a given.  “Practice makes perfect,” and succeeding at increasingly challenging performances is part of any athletic regimen.

As children may witness the intense control and ability shown by athletes, succeeding in academic ‘performance’ is also on parents minds.  We aspire to develop principles to live by, that are conducive to children’s stability and increasing competence in learning and comprehension.

Let’s reflect for a moment on educational calisthenics, and differing views of routine and repetition, contrasted with spontaneity and child-initiated learning.  Traditional training that includes drills remains one of the best ways to memorize arithmetic in early childhood, though there are increasingly variable drill structures.  And for children who are learning English or are multilingual, drills in conjugating verbs also lead to lasting memorization and comprehension of deeper grammatical principles in language.  To overlook the meaningful impact of drills such as these is to throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Spontaneity, and child or student-initiated learning, is that freedom to be creative that is also important to our children’s intellectual, social, and psychic development.  Interesting new studies find, for instance, that students forced to read a topic that disinterests them, struggle learning to read, suffer, and ultimately become less likely to become avid readers.  In fact, the struggle affects their adult lives, as well.  On the other hand, students given the opportunity to select their reading, have positive feelings about it, advance and learn to read more quickly, showing increased gratification and comprehension in reading, as well as a lifelong propensity for reading.

The best learning includes spontaneity and drills, helping a child develop a solid basic foundation for continued learning. Should a child take a liking to certain topics, increasingly, drills become pleasant challenges to be mastered.  Olympians learn by combining natural interests and drills.

Related Online Topics:

Science360:  Science Of The Summer Olympics: Engineering In Sports

New York Times : Math Drills, via the Smartphone

Counting by Twos and Pairs with Savoir Faire – That is Something Special!

Do you have special games or phrases you use with your child for counting by twos or by pairs, that you’d like to share with us?

When you first introduce your child to counting by more than one, keep it simple.  An ideal way to begin is with the concept of twos, because many real life objects come in pairs.  To the extent that people have pairs of shoes, socks, and pajamas, counting by pairs is a holistic way to help your child develop an interest in sets that have similarities, such as a right and left shoe.

Remember that rhyming words almost always appeal to a child’s curiosity, so inviting your child to join in on rhyming is fun and makes everyone happy.  Don’t worry if your child says ‘close-to-rhyming’ words, you can do that too, and one funny word leads to another!   You can come back to pairs of things gradually.  To make pairs rhyming an ongoing game, you can always begin with someone’s funny shoes, maybe grandpa’s old boots, or Mom’s clogs.  Two!  Shoes!  Blue!  Who? You?  Goo!  When you practice twos and rhymes together, your child is learning important vocabulary and pronunciation also.

From two as a pair, you can introduce another pair.  This helps us go from two to four.  Once this is understandable in your home, several things that are the same can be paired.  By the time you get to a higher number, you can gradually count things with a “little story” emphasis on pairs. This adds a little dimension to rhymes with a story-like context.  Fully spontaneous, it is surprising what we can invent as we go.

Young children also enjoy exploring two eyes and two ears.  The childhood song, Head and shoulders, knees and toes has many versions around the world, but delights all children, as they seek to identify these parts of their body while moving along with the melody.

Tongue twisters for young children might include three or 4 word strings, again, fun and nonsense go together in word and number play.  For example: two – twigs – twirl can become an outdoor game.  How many child-centered things can you do with two twirling twigs? You’d be surprised!  There are wonderfous counting resources available in nature and out of doors.  There are leaves, nuts (acorns are especially fun) sticks, pebbles, clover, fruits, pots, garden tools, flowers…

When you’re traveling, or on the go, and your child needs something to do, this is the perfect time for discovery using an educational app.  Starting with basic numbers you cannot go wrong!  You can also make traveling a more pleasant experience for everyone with a couple of engaging apps.  Our favorite for beginning numbers and colors is the Agnitus Learning Games for Preschool and Kindergarten.

Related Online Topics:
Hap Palmer CDs: Can Cockatoos Count by Twos?

Colors and Learning Shade Recognition for Children

Do you remember when YOU began learning to mix colors, how thrilling it was, and the seeming unpredictability of blending new colors?  This is one of the most interesting early experiences kids have with non-toxic paints, colored pencils and markers!  Water-based fingerpainting is where the fun usually begins; as experienced parents, we know paint can end up smeared nearly anywhere!  Once young children are past the thrill of the changeable and fluid nature of paints, a focus on colors can begin.

It’s important as your child begins to learn about colors, that you be consistent with names for shades, and that you don’t introduce too many hues right away.  Subtle blends are for older kids, unless you find that your child is interested.  Most young children learn quickly that mixing a few colors generally creates a dark, brackish or black hue. Yet, a young child easily understands lighter and darker shades of color (without knowledge of the properties involved).  Adding some white to a primary color, or a tiny bit of black can help your child quickly realize that white lightens any shade and black darkens it.  Admixtures of orange with yellow or blue with green are more difficult in the beginning.  This does not mean children cannot learn a rich sense of coloration; indeed children can and do.  Teaching our youngsters about colors at an early age, gives them insight into laws of shading and pigments.  They can continue to make sense of colors in the otherwise confusing world around them.  Once you know red is red, for example, it pretty much remains a point of mastery for the rest of your life.  It is true there may be fire engine red, Chinese red, vermillion, burgundy red, ruby red and other nuanced red hues. Memorizing these early in life is not just gratifying, but helps a child build an eye for aesthetic sensibilities, and love of beauty.

  • “Find the Color” is a seek and touch game that can convert an ordinary several minutes into an engaging little adventure!  You think through a few colors, and ask your child to run and touch something which is that color.  Be sure you help your child recognize ‘true’ colors, by sticking with clear examples of red, blue, and yellow in the beginning.
  • One of the most thrilling simple color experiences a youngster can have is fingerpaint play.  Getting messy is healthy, and putting bright simple colors on paper is fun.  Once a child is more experienced, I find our children are curious about what creates browns and darker, more complex colors.

Related Online Topics:

The Creative Curriculum for Infants & Toddlers by Laura J. Colker, Ed.D.

PBS Kids: A variety of drawings that can be colored – for young children