Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slide

Although most kids love having the summer off, many educators are concerned about the summer academic slide. So what’s a parent to do? Here are some ways you can make sure your kids don’t slip academically during the summer.

Although most kids love having the summer off, many educators are concerned about the summer academic slide. One study revealed that kids lose about 2.6 months of their math skills over the summer. Some groups of kids lose two months of reading skills. Teachers complain that when school starts up in the fall, they spend way too much time trying to get kids back up to speed.

So what’s a parent to do?

Here are some ways you can make sure your kids don’t slip academically during the summer:

Have your kids teach you about what they learned at school. Focus on a major subject, such as math or science. If your third grader had to memorize the multiplication table, have them quiz you on it during the summer between third and fourth grade. If your eighth grader learned about the periodic table, have them teach it to you.

If you can afford it, hire a tutor. Some parents hire a teacher (or tutor) to meet with their kids once a week during the summer. Ideally you’d like to find someone who can make learning fun so that it doesn’t feel like your kids are going to “summer school.” Schools often have a list of tutors in the office. Ask for the list before school gets out.

Read, read, read! Keep up your kids’ reading skills by reading. Form a book club that includes your child and his or her friends. Have them get together to discuss books they’re excited about. Some kids enjoy re-reading the seven-book Harry Potter series during the summer. With the final release of the Harry Potter movie this July, it will be easy to motivate kids to read Harry Potter again.

  • Visit the library on a weekly basis. Let your kids browse for titles that interest them. Keep your kids’ library books in a basket or bucket or shelf, and then have another basket that they can place their books in once they read them.
  • Ask a librarian for suggested books that fit your child’s age. Many have book lists and book recommendations. See if there’s a book that interests both you and your child, and check out two copies of it so you can read the same book at the same time. Then discuss the book when you finish.
  • If kids resist reading, remind them that summer reading is a lot of fun. You can read at the beach, under a tree, or in front of a fan on a sweltering day. One of my kids loves to read in a hammock in the backyard.

Stimulate their minds. You can also keep kids stimulated by taking them on outings, such as a children’s museum, the zoo, an art museum, the theater, or a professional soccer or baseball game. Since our city has a lot of skyways, we got a map of the downtown skyway system and went on an adventure walk to see how many roads we could cross without going outside. (My kids were highly intrigued by figuring out which way to go according to the map.)

  • What’s critical is to keep giving kids experiences that expand their horizons instead of shrinking them. Too often, it’s easy for kids to spend too much time in front of the TV or the computer because that’s easy. All you do is sit down and turn on a switch.

So keep kids engaged in learning this summer. (But don’t tell them that they’re going to learn anything because then they’ll resist!) Kids are always up for a new adventure, and when they learn something in the process, that’s even better.
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Sources:

1. Cynthia Brown, Elena Rocha, Amanda Sharkey, Earl Hadley, Claire Handley, Robert Kronley, Getting Smarter, Becoming Fairer (Washington, DC: Center for American Progress and Institute for America’s Future, 2005).

2. Summer Learning, Parentfurther.

3. Photo via RLHyde on Flick’r.

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