School’s out for summer and now you have the kids at home full-time. Even though you’re keeping them busy with summer camps, family reunions, and other summer activities, this season is a critical time for children academically. When children don’t have the structure and repetition of a school routine, they sometimes fall prey to the “summer slide,” aka academic regression that can reduce the progress they made in the previous school year and set them up for a rocky start in the next school one. If you’re not sure how to keep your child on track, here are seven tips to avoid academic regression during the summer.
1. Read, Read and Read Some More!
Every summer since my children were able to read, I always signed them up for free summer reading programs sponsored by my local library. Most library programs offer summer reading programs with incentives and rewards for participating children. Encourage your children to read non-fiction, fiction, ebooks, poetry, and newspapers out loud with you. For most children, 20 minutes per day is an appropriate amount of time to read. Consistent reading is the single most important thing your children can do to prevent the “slide.”
2. Focus on Math
Math, sometimes even more than reading, is the subject that slips most during the summer. If your child uses online math programs during the school year, work with their teacher and school administrators to ensure he or she retains access to these sites during the summer, then have them spend at least 20 minutes per day doing math facts.
If you don’t have access to these programs there are still many fun ways to incorporate math into your summer routine, from calculating how much water is in a swimming pool, to figuring out a budget when you go to a grocery store. Play math games like concentration or math facts to keep your child’s math skills sharp while having fun together.
3. Take Family Field Trips
A fun way to spend time together as a family is to do something exciting and educational to help your child remain focused on academics. For example, take a trip to a museum, zoo or local park with walking trails. Then, as a writing exercise, have your child journal about your travels and adventures. Journaling not only helps children with writing and organizing their ideas and thoughts, it also serves as a way to preserve the beautiful memories you are creating together.
4. Learn More Words to Increase the Vocabulary
Make a point of learning a new word each week or, depending on your child’s academic level, a word a day. Some easy ways of doing this are to hang the word on the fridge and see who can use it the most times throughout the week, whoever wins can a great a reward or treat.
5. Cook As a Family
Cooking with your children is one of the single best ways to integrate math, reading, and following directions in one shot. Let your child create and design the menu, then work with them as they figure out measurements and ingredients while following recipe steps. As the summer progresses, help your child put together their favorite recipes in a cookbook so you have something to capture the memories and build on in subsequent summers.
6. Collect Books and Games for the Car
Instead of playing on electronic devices, entice your children with coloring books, puzzle books, Mad-Libs, comic books and games specifically designed for the road while traveling. Use the time in the car to talk with your kids or play old-fashioned games like punch bug or identifying license plates as a family. If your children balk at the idea of not being able to use electronics, you can incentivize them to earn their electronic devices by spending time on academic experiences.
7. Limit Screen Time
Limiting time in front of video games and television, even during the summer months is critical to keeping children’s brains actively engaged. Offering children alternative and engaging activities that inspire the imagination will ensure they grow mentally in the summer and don’t succumb to the summer slide.
If you’re worried about your children losing important skills during summer, which must be retaught once school starts again, then following these tips can help. Let us know what tips and tricks you use to help your children avoid the summer slide.