Summer Slide Prevention Tips
Kids love summer. Most of them are thrilled to take a break from school each year, but what does it mean for their academic futures? Research demonstrates that an annual summer vacation costs students some of the skills they've developed during the school year. By the time they're back in class, they've regressed enough to require teachers to spend an average of four to six weeks reteaching what their students should've retained from the year before. This phenomenon is known as the summer slide, or summer learning loss, among educators, and you can prevent it!
But summer slide prevention doesn't need to be all work and no play nor does it need to take up a child's entire day. Taking bit-sized opportunities for learning can keep their fundamental skills in place while students explore new interests and foster a love of learning. That's why we've curated a list of tips to prevent the summer slide that are fun, interactive and best of all, educational. Let's take a look at some tricks for how to avoid the summer slide.
Enroll Your Kids in Summer School
Summer school gets a bad reputation because it is traditionally used as a remedial program. However, research shows that 76 percent of students who take summer classes are more likely to get accepted into an elite college or university, which means summer school is beneficial for all students! Whether you want to prepare your child for the next grade or want them to get ahead, there is something for every child at summer school.
More and more schools are offering summer programs for students at all academic levels, and some of these classes even offer high school credits. If your public school isn't offering the types of programs your student needs, be sure to research options at local private schools. Online programs are also an excellent alternative if local in-person options are limited.
Some of these programs charge a tuition fee, which means certain classes won't be an option for every family. Fortunately, some programs have no tuition or offer scholarships and financial aid. Checking your local district, library or community center is a great place to start when you're looking for more affordable options.
Summer school doesn't have to be traditional either. You can find classes, workshops or camps specializing in any number of subjects. Tapping into your child's interests is a great way to get them excited about summer learning! Does your child love video games? Sign your child up for a coding class where they can learn how to design their own video game.
Does your child spend all their time in front of the TV? Sign them up for a creative writing class or theater workshop to help them create their own show! From STEM classes to second language courses, summer learning programs can offer a wide range of diverse learning opportunities for all ages.
Keep Your Kids Reading
Summer break is a great time to foster readers, but oftentimes it's when students lose their reading skills instead of developing them. Reading is fundamental to a child's lifelong success, making it paramount for parents and educators to find ways to keep every kid's nose stuck in a book! Research demonstrates that reading four to six books a summer is enough to prevent regression in students. Whether they love it or hate it, here are some ways to keep kids reading during summer break.
Read to Your Kids Daily
Finding daily opportunities to read is easier than you think. Whether it's reading an age-appropriate meme in the morning or a recipe card at dinner time, look for ways to incorporate reading into everyday life. Ask your child to read signs and billboards or look up interesting articles on the Internet. Even having your child read a book to you, a pet, or a younger sibling is a great way to buff up their reading comprehension and their confidence.
In addition to integrating small reading opportunities, try blocking time for independent reading as well. Fortunately, tackling the recommended four to six books before school starts doesn't require hours of reading per day. Spending 20 to 30 minutes of silent sustained reading is plenty. Signing up for a reading program through your local library or a national organization is a great way to incentivize your child to form this daily habit.
These programs offer book lists, supplemental material and a wide range of incentives that foster a child's interest in good books!
Find Books Your Kids Are Interested In
The right summer reading materials can convert even the most reluctant reader. As long as the book matches their reading level, don't worry about whether they choose a biography or a fairytale. Let them explore the topics and stories that pique their interest. No one, not even adults, starts reading regularly by choosing books that bore them. If you're looking for suggestions, a local librarian or teacher is a great resource for titles that may be right for your child.
Read Aloud to Your Kids
Nowadays, most parents stop reading aloud to their children after they turn eight. But surveys suggest that children up to age eleven wish their parents hadn't stopped reading to them. Reading aloud benefits all ages, even teens, especially those who struggle. It helps to build listening and comprehension skills while exposing them to texts and themes that may be slightly above their reading level.
Reading as a family is a great opportunity to bond and an even better alternative to nightly TV viewing. Choose a book or series you cherished at that age and take turns reading chapters and watch your little reader blossom.
Make Math Fun
On average, students lose 2.6 months of math skills if they don't participate in educational activities over their summer break. Keeping those math muscles firing is the best way to keep your child on top of their game when school rolls back around! Aside from signing up for math-related classes or programs, there are some simple activities that can help keep kids sharp in mathematics.
Just like with reading, an easy trick to incorporate more math is to practice it in everyday life. Try asking your child to:
- Count certain objects
- Calculate change with a pretend store (or a real one)
- Perform basic addition and subtraction problems with items on hand
- Practice fractions while baking
- Calculate sale percentages while shopping
- Figure out the appropriate tip while you're eating out
- Require them to solve a math problem to get access to WiFi or to eat dessert
Talk to your child's teacher about which skills they should be practicing over the summer to help determine which of these activities is best for them or to brainstorm more. There are also plenty of games that hone math skills as well, including an abundance of online games that incorporate computational problems. For screen-free alternatives, try sudoku, cribbage or Monopoly.
Sometimes, plain old flashcards and rote memorization is the best way to go, but incentivizing the learning process can make it a lot of fun! Assign activity packets each week and take them to ice cream if they turn them in. Award prizes whenever they memorize one of their times tables or solving a brain teaser. The more creative you are the more exciting it will be for your child. If you're looking for resources, check with a teacher or ask other parents what they're using to make math fun!
Go on Field Trips
Kids love field trips, and summer gives you plenty of opportunities to expose them to things they might not have time to see during the school year. Here are some great options to consider:
- Zoos and aquariums
- National or state parks
- Planetariums or dark sky parks
- Music or theatrical performances
- Historic sites
Places and events like these are perfect for integrated learning. Instead of just strolling past enclosures or exhibits, encourage your child to:
- Read signs aloud
- Ask keepers or tour guides questions
- Record their observations or things they've learned
Take Advantage of Your Travel Plans
Your annual beach trip or travel plans can be another way to incorporate learning opportunities, even if it's just curating educational activities to entertain them during a car or plane ride. Try banning screens to foster curiosity, conversation and bonding.
Do some research ahead of time to see what's available near your desired destination, including the field trip options we already listed. Encourage your older kids to help budget the trip, calculate gas mileage or research an educational activity that interests them. With some creative thinking, every trip can be chock-full of educational experiences.
Travel can also be a great way to expose your children to new cultures, languages and lifestyles. Try local cuisines, learn new words in other languages and invest in tours and experiences that explore native environments and values. You'll not only be supporting these communities but also giving your child a diversified experience that can help them see the world through a new lens.
Help Your Kids Form Writing Habits
Writing is another skill that suffers over the summer. Encouraging students to write while on break may sound difficult, but there are lots of fun ways to incorporate it in their vacation plans. Ask your child to experiment with the written word by writing:
- Journal entries: Journaling not only bolsters writing skills but can also help kids process their emotions and increase their emotional intelligence. If your child isn't interested in writing about their day or runs out of things to write, try some prompts to inspire them, such as, "What was your favorite birthday," or "What do you want to be when you grow up?"
- Reviews: Reviews can come in many forms and therefore offer many opportunities to practice writing. Encourage your child to write a review of the books they're reading, the field trips they take or even the restaurants you visit. Collecting a summer's worth of reviews could turn into a great keepsake!
- Stories and poetry: Many young writers are interested in prose and poetry. Stories and poems help children communicate universal truths, as well as process their thoughts, feelings and questions. They also encourage writers to explore literary devices, which develops critical thinking and perspective.
- Letters or emails: Who doesn't like receiving a personal letter? Whether it's handwritten or in email form, encourage your child to write their grandparents or their friends during the break. Look for programs that collect letters to encourage hospitalized children, lonely seniors or deployed soldiers as a way to encourage your young writer and to put a smile on someone else's face!
Play Educational Games
While cribbage and sudoku are fun ways to hone math skills, there are plenty of other games that can prevent the summer slide in other subjects. After math, spelling is the next skill to bear the brunt of the school break, so look into games such as Bananagrams or Scrabble, which can also improve vocabulary. Science, chemistry and craft kits are great for hands-on learners and keep kids entertained and learning throughout the day.
Crosswords, brain teasers and puzzles are other great options that are notably screen-free, though there are plenty of online alternatives if you're looking to strike the balance between screens and learning. Just remember to keep screen-time limited, even if your child is using them educationally.
Use Planners With a Purpose
Preventing the summer slide is possible, especially when you have a plan! That's why a printed planner is a great tool to keep summer break both fun and educational. Instead of spending more time using apps and screens to keep your child organized, a hardcopy planner provides both visual and haptic benefits that are proven to improve retention. Hardcopy planners also give students opportunities to take notes and brainstorm new ideas, making it a great tool to have on those field trips you're planning!
But don't settle for just any old planner. Give your child something designed by educators just for students! Our Planners with a Purpose are the perfect tool to teach children the organizational skills they'll use in the classroom for years to come! We offer planners for all ages and interests, including specialty STEM-focused planners for your future scientist, engineer or programmer to enjoy.
Not only will a planner enhance the learning your child is already doing, with interspersed enrichment material written by education experts, but they'll also practice foundational time management skills that they can take into the next school year.
Make the most of your child's summer and order your Success By Design planner today!
- SBD, Inc.