Dr. Rivera

Dr. Karla Rivera is a district-wide psychologist here in Irvington. She is here to provide support for children and families as we face these challenging times.

Topics by group

Make the Most of Summer!: How to Support Your Child’s Learning Through the Summer Months

Summer is here! Summer is a time for fun and relaxation- a well-deserved break after a challenging school year. Our children have had to cope with many things and adjust to a “new normal” and we have been amazed by how resilient they are! Returning to school was a major transition, but our scholars have made many gains. However, gains can be lost over the summer months. Here are some tips to help support your child’s learning, while having fun too!

Before school lets Out, check-in with your child’s teacher/teachers: Find out what their recommendations are for your child this summer. Are there important resources or websites they think would help? Also, many stores such as FIve and Below have workbooks for your child’s grade to practice and reinforce skills.

Take advantage of the local library: The foundation to all learning is reading! Encourage your child of any age to read, read, read this summer. Membership at the library gives your family access to a world of books as well as free programs to enjoy.

Make Reading Fun: These days children are on devices from toddlerhood, devices designed to hold their attention- it can be difficult for books to compete. Make reading and writing fun to keep your child engaged. For younger children, cuddle up and read together. Don’t pressure your child, but gently support and encourage them in their reading.

Form a family “book club”: Pick a book to read together as a family. Older children can read on their own, while younger children can read alongside you. After every few chapters, sit together with snacks, or picnic outside to discuss the story. What does your child think will happen next? Who is their favorite character? Why?

Create Books Together: Let your child’s imagination flow by authoring and illustrating their own book! Staple some paper together. Encourage your child to come up with a story and write their own words, or dictate to you what their book should say. Let your child illustrate their book with drawings. Tell your child how proud you are and read it over and over together- your child will love seeing their ideas come to life on the pages.

Keep a Summer Journal: A summer journal is a wonderful keepsake and a way for your child to read and write without it feeling like work. Get a notebook, cover it with paper, and allow your child to decorate it. A few days a week, sit with your child and have them write (or assist them in writing) what went on that day. Have them draw pictures of what happened, or add photos. This will be a wonderful way to hold on to summer memories.

Teach, Science, Math & Art Experientially: Experiential learning is when we learn through our experiences. This type of learning is very meaningful and readily retained. For example, children can read about the anatomy of a plant and how it grows, but they will learn far more by growing and nurturing their own plants. Here are some fun and easy ways to let your child learn from experience this summer.

Science: Teach chemistry by making slime or play-doh; discuss how the ingredients came together to make something entirely new. Examine how adding more or less of various ingredients changes the consistency of your final product.

Do Nature Studies. Head out to one of our beautiful parks in Essex County. Take pictures or draw flowers, leaves or animals that you see. Go home and assist your child in researching his/her favorite. Grow a plant or small garden.

Visit the Turtle Back Zoo, The Great Falls at Patterson, or one of New Jersey’s beautiful beaches. Let your child see the wonders of nature in action.

Math: For younger children, go for a walk and play I-Spy. Search and count cars of a certain color. Do some mental math (“we saw ten red cars and six blue ones- how many more red than blue did we see?”).

Play “Store”. Purchase some items from your local dollar store, snacks or choose favorite items from around your home. Give each one a price. Give young children some change and allow them to practice counting money and making change as they “shop”.

Cook & Bake Together: Cooking and baking both involve many math skills such as measuring, fractions and time. Allow your child to measure with the measuring cup, ask them to keep track of baking times (“these cookies will be ready in twenty minutes. It’s 5:00 now; what time should we take them out?”).

Practice Real World Math With Older Children: Ask your child to come assist you with grocery shopping at the store. Ask them to help you figure out prices (This chicken is 25% off $10.00, how much is it? This is three for 15, how much is one?). Let them estimate how much tax will need to be paid. If your teen has a job or allowance, help them to determine a budget. What percent should they save? What are their financial goals (saving towards college, a car, etc)?

Create Art: Allow your child of any age to create art this summer. Teach your child that art is a means of self- expression. Provide paper, crayons or markers. Allow your child to experiment with paint sets. Talk to your child about what colors mean to them, and help them observe how colors blend to make new colors. Purchase some modeling clay (available at Walmart, target, etc). Allow your child to sculpt and mold the clay.

Along with developing important skills of creativity, art teaches children important math skills like dimension, shape and color. It teaches them patience and frustration tolerance and the importance of a growth mindset. Sometimes art doesn’t go as planned, but a mistake can become something beautiful and even better than what was intended. If your child is stuck for ideas, check out some simple, inexpensive and easy art projects on Pinterest.

Inspire Your Child by Visiting One of Our Local Art Museums. The Newark Art Museum is $10.00 for adults and $8.00 per child. The Montclair Art Museum is $15.00 for adults and free for kids. It offers free programs for children on Saturdays. Broaden your child’s cultural awareness in new and fascinating ways by spending a day in the world of art.

Take the opportunity this summer to build upon your child’s skills, provide enriching experiences and bond as a family. Your child will remember this summer as a special one!