Why to Continue Reading and Math this Summer

When summer break is on the horizon and the last few days of the school year approach, many kids start dreaming about leisure time, freedom from homework and responsibilities and long days spent relaxing in the sun with friends. The problem is that while summer is a great opportunity for kids to take a break and recharge, they don’t need months to do this.


In fact, the extended break actually does more harm than good, and results in a process known as summer learning loss. There are many reasons why this is detrimental, especially for kids who are preparing for college, so it’s important that parents encourage their kids to continue their studies— especially math and reading—throughout the summer months.

Summer Learning Loss in Reading and Math


Over the summer holidays, school children lose an average of two to three months’ worth of knowledge in certain subjects, particularly math and reading. As a testament to this, students perform worse on tests taken at the end of summer versus ones taken at the beginning. The reason is because humans learn best when education is continuous and without extended pauses.


Worse yet, these learning losses are cumulative; meaning a student finishing high school will have lost a great deal more knowledge due to extended summers than a child who’s only a few years into school.

Effects of Lost Knowledge


One of the most noticeable effects of summer learning loss is that teachers spend upwards of six weeks at the beginning of every new school year reviewing material from the previous year, rather than picking up where they left off. This can lead to children being bored and apathetic, and this is never a good way for children to approach their education.


Children who are bored or who don’t care about school aren’t likely to excel academically, and this can impact the rest of their lives, including whether they can attend college and what kinds of job opportunities are open to them.


Creative Ways to Encourage Summer Learning


While most children won’t want to spend extra time during their summer holiday focused on school, there are ways that parents can make summer learning more fun and enjoyable. For one, ask your child to keep a daily journal in which to chronicle events, write a continuing story, or practice other writing techniques that will fend off summer learning loss for literacy.


You can also start a book club with your child, where each of you reads the same book over a one- or two-week period, and at the end of the time you can get together to discuss things like theme, plot, the characters, and how you enjoyed the story. And along with being a vital life skill and a great way to spend quality time together, cooking is also an excellent way to keep up your child’s reading and math skills, thanks to things like recipes, grocery lists, ingredient quantities, and measurements.

Many Littleton child behavior psychologists have seen what happens when kids aren’t challenged at school, and this includes poor academic performance, behavioral problems, and disruptive behavior in the classroom. One easy way to prevent learning loss is to encourage your child to participate in educational activities during the summer months, particularly as they apply to reading and math.


The good news is that summertime affords many opportunities for parents to encourage fun, unique, and engaging methods of learning that will help kids retain the information they worked so hard to learn during the school year.


Saying Goodbye To Your High School Graduate As They Go To College

A child graduating from high school and heading off to college is an exciting and rewarding time in a family’s history, but it’s also a difficult and sad time for many parents and kids alike. From the young adult’s perspective, he or she is leaving the safety and security of home for the first time and becoming an independent adult in the world. From the parents’ perspective, they feel both pride and loneliness at the prospect of having a child leave home.


For some parents, this feeling of grief (referred to as the empty nest syndrome) can begin as early as when the first child gets accepted to college. There are both healthy and unhealthy ways of coping with saying goodbye to your college graduate, and this article will explain some ways your family can manage the feelings of sadness that come when a child heads off to college.

Recognize Your Grief When They Leave


Grieving isn’t just something that occurs upon the death of a loved one, and people can experience grief in response to any loss—including when a child leaves home. When this happens, it’s important to recognize that your feelings of loss are legitimate and that you don’t have to suppress or ignore what you’re feeling. Instead, talk about what you’re feeling to friends, family, and your partner, or seek out a group counseling session that’s dedicated to parents who need support when a child leaves home.

Have a Communication Plan in Place


The beginning of college is a very important time in the lives of young adults, not only because of the education they’re getting, but also because this is the first time in their lives they are truly allowed the freedom to experience life and the world without someone always looking over their shoulders.


But that doesn’t mean all ties must be cut, and it’s more important now than ever that you maintain regular communication with your child. Have a plan in place about when you’ll talk, how you’ll communicate, and who is responsible for contacting whom. For instance, will you have set days of the week on which to talk, and will you communicate primarily via a certain method (such as email, texting, phone, and video chats)? Planning these things in advance can be a comfort to both you and your child, and a gentle reminder that you’re still there for each other.

Redirect Attention to Yourself


Being a parent takes time and energy, so when your child goes off to college, this can be a great opportunity for you to reconnect with the person you used to be, get involved again with hobbies you once enjoyed, and take up pastimes you’ve been too busy for. Not only will this help you work through your feelings of grief and move past your sadness, but it’s also a healthy way to get in touch with yourself again as an individual, and can be a great time to find that spark again with your spouse.


As a Littleton child behavior psychologist, Dr. Lazarus has seen many families struggle when a high school student graduates and goes off to college. It’s a time of conflicting emotions for the entire family, because while everyone is proud of and excited for the next stage in the young adult’s life, the family is also going through a major change, and this can often feel like losing a member.


There are ways you can help your family cope with the feelings of sadness that come with a young adult starting college, and if necessary, there are always therapy sessions and groups you can join to help you get through the worst of the grief you may feel.

How Noise Increases Your Stress—and What to do About It

What can you hear right now?

Take a moment to focus, perhaps close your eyes, and consider the sounds around you. Is there a fan in the background? Music playing? Do you hear the cars from the highway outside? Is it loud enough that you are distracted, or are you surprised by all the noise you can hear?

All living beings who are capable of hearing sound use these sounds to detect information about the environment, including cues for danger. While this has served an important role throughout human development, in today’s world, people are exposed to far too much noise. Chronic exposure to noise, especially at high levels, can greatly increase stress, making you more irritable and increasing the chance of a major fight with your family or friends. Many clients who seek couples therapy in Highlands Ranch admit that environmental stress and noise have an effect on their relationship. This stress can result in negative health outcomes including decreased sleep, increased risk of heart disease, and lower mental performance. Have you ever been driving a car, looking for an address, and turned down your radio? Talking GPS devices aside, people have been doing this instinctively for decades to help them “see” better—but it’s more accurate to say that it helps your brain than your eyes. That’s right, you really can think better when you turn down that noise!

Unfortunately, in many areas of our lives, we cannot “turn down” the noise. While you wish you could, you probably cannot “mute” your chatty coworkers, and your children cannot “mute” their classmates—no matter how much it could help you to focus and concentrate. People aren’t the only source of problem here; environmental noises have been compared to smog, “polluting” the air in the same way as a black factory smokestack can pollute a city. With the constant interruption of dinging cell phones, people living in increasingly close quarters, and tiny little Bluetooth devices delivering social media right into our ears, sound can be almost impossible to avoid!

Fortunately, you have some options. While a Littleton ADHD Counseling expert can help you learn tips to stay focused, that noise will still be there! One of the best is to simply assess your personal environment for noise level. If you always leave a TV or radio on by habit, consider trying a day without noise. You may find that your stress levels are lower, or that you can be more productive. At night, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs can be a lifesaver—those same tools can also help you get some peace and quiet at work. Reducing or removing noise, even on a temporary basis, can help promote mindfulness and relaxation. You can address noise through structure as well, such as placing carpet or rugs in your home, using doors or curtains to separate rooms and serve as noise barriers, or fixing or oiling squeaky doors, fans, and other appliances throughout your home. In a noisy world, few people appreciate silence, but it can be a positive addition to your life.

Top Tips for Introducing a New Pet to the Family

The family pet is an image right out of a Norman Rockwell painting—imagine your dog, curled up by the fireplace, or your cat, curled up in your lap. Now, imagine your child chasing the dog, and the cat, and destroying everything in their path!

While pets can be a wonderful way for kids to learn about responsibility, develop empathy, and even learn to connect emotionally to another creature in a safe and loving manner, it is of utmost importance that your new pet is introduced in a way that will keep both the child and the animal safe. This will set the stage for a strong relationship to come, and will ensure that nobody gets squeezed, bitten, dropped, or scratched. Dr. Steven Lazarus provides animal assisted therapy in Littleton, helping kids to build confidence and express their feelings with the help of his trusted therapy pal: Zeke, the dog. Here are the top 5 tips from Dr. Lazarus and Zeke for introducing a pet to your family.

  1. Choose the right pet. Before bringing home a little ball of fur, make sure your child is mature enough for it. While very small animals like chihuahuas or rabbits may seem like a great idea, children under 10 often lack the fine motor skills to hold these delicate creatures safely. A sturdy dog, cat, or resilient member of the rodent family might make a better pet.
  2. Teach your child how to interact. Small children especially like to pat, hug, and squeeze—the perfect storm for a bite in the face! Teach children to stroke the animal gently on its back and give it space.
  3. Help your child understand your pet. For example, cats might arch their backs and hiss when frightened, while dogs may have wide eyes showing the whites or may cower or back away. Remind your child that the pet is not a toy, it is a living being with feelings who must be respected.
  4. Teach your child that a pet is a long-term commitment. While it can be tempting to get rid of pets when children are not attending to them, this does not teach problem-solving skills, and suggests that some members of the family can simply be discarded. Promote love and responsibility by helping your child provide the best life for their pet.
  5. Accept the truth: the pet will become the parent’s. Even the most responsible children are still children—they still need caretaking, so they will, on many occasions, forget to feed, water, take out, love, brush, or otherwise care for their pet. Don’t get a pet unless you, the parent, are also interested in adding a furry, scaly, or feathery little ball of love to your home!

To find out more tips on parenting, behavior management, or animal assisted therapy in Highlands Ranch, contact Dr. Steven Lazarus.