Avoid the Slide! Six Tips for a Successful Summer Climb

By Becky Higdon & Nichole Jones

Splashing in the pool, building sandcastles, summer camp, star gazing… summer is an exciting (and often exhausting) time for kids and parents alike. But, the long break from school often leads to the summer brain drain popularly known as “summer slide.” If you do a quick google search on the topic you’ll find statistics like these about summer learning loss:

  • Students can lose up to 15% of their academic ability over the summer if they don’t read, write, or practice math.
  • Loss is greatest in math and science.
  • Two-thirds of the achievement gap between ninth graders can be explained by summer learning loss during elementary school years.

Learning loss is inevitable when kids take the summer off from educational activities. But don’t worry, even if you haven’t enforced a summer reading program or practiced daily math facts there’s still plenty of summer left. Start summer brain gain before the gap widens using some of these tips for your child’s “summer climb.”

1. Go on field trips. Whether it’s part of your planned vacation or it’s a trip to a farm, encourage your child to be inquisitive and observant. Remind them that learning is fun. Consider including a scavenger hunt as part of a morning hike or making a journal together for your child to document his adventure. If there’s time, build experiences by letting your child help plan your trip – research what to do and expect (history of a battle, physics of a roller coaster, or habitat for animals you might see along the way), map your route, build a budget, and find out how much gas you will need. Your child will learn valuable planning skills as well.

2. Play school. Let your child be the teacher and have your child teach you something, read you a book, or read a math problem together and let them walk you through how he or she solves a math problem. For older kids, give them an opportunity to tutor a younger student, whether a sibling or a neighbor, tutoring can be a fun way to reinforce language or math skills. They say a true test of comprehension is whether or not you can teach someone else. Whether formal or informal, a tutoring session can be fun and will help both the tutor and pupil to review vital skills and keep them fresh during the summer months.

3. Make nice with screen-time. Harness the power of educational technology by looking for devices and content designed to address specific learning objectives that are age appropriate and fun. There are a variety of educational videos on YouTube or Netflix that can entertain your child but help them learn at the same time. Make screen time count by choosing programs and educational games that will keep your child engaged, ready to take in new information, and reinforce reading and math skills.

4. Read, read, and read more. Put aside time for reading every day. Encourage your child to read to you throughout the day and during everyday activities. Whether its road signs, instructions for a science experiment, a recipe or the grocery list, provide your child opportunities to be part of your day through reading. Don’t forget to be part of your child’s reading routine too though, bring back the bedtime story or create a time for you to read above your child’s reading ability to help build vocabulary and explore new subjects.

5. Experiment. Let your child explore in the kitchen with a new recipe or in the backyard with a new science project. Have them find a recipe that they would like to make, let them make the grocery list, build a budget for how much to spend, shop and then make the recipe. Baking can help little ones continue to build fine motor skills and is good for practicing using measuring tools. Encourage older children to double a recipe and build math skills by calculating the new measurements for ingredients. Don’t have a sous chef on your hands? Try a science experiment instead. Whether it’s a simple float or sink exercise, color mixing or making energy with a lemon and a flashlight. Build on your child’s interests to investigate and explore.

6. Play games. Inside or outside, brain games or physical activity, there are ways to incorporate summer learning challenges into summer fun. Create opportunity to integrate math into easy physical challenges by measuring the distance of a long jump or high jump, timing races, or skip counting reps. Whether playing a competitive sports game on the lawn or a board game (bonus points for games that require critical thinking!) in the family room, let your child keep score. Even playing with blocks or putting a puzzle together can benefit a child during the summer months by helping them learn spatial skills and recognize patterns.

The research is clear—summer learning loss is a significant problem for children of all ages and from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Don’t let the slide bring your family down, these tips combined with a little extra effort to get into a back to school routine before school starts, will surely help with your child’s summer climb. Enjoy the rest of your summer! 

Originally published at https://frederick.macaronikid.com/articles/598067738b55662a77cb3279/avoid-the-slide-six-tips-for-a-successful-summer-climb