Preventing the “Summer Slide” – Part 2 of 2
In last week’s blog, we defined the term “summer slide,” and in this week’s post we will cover how to address it. As we noted last week, students potentially lose up to three months’ worth of knowledge and skills during the summer break. By keeping your child academically active during the summer, he will return to school in September with greater confidence and better prepared to tackle the challenges of the new school year. Here are some tips for how to effectively prevent the “summer slide” (while not entirely “ruining” your child’s summer!).
Set a schedule – with your child – at the beginning of the summer and stick to it: If your child has summer reading or math work, or even if you are the one “assigning” the work, make the schedule the “gate keeper” and keep the attitude positive between you and your child. Setting a schedule that takes into consideration camp, family activities and play dates means that your child won’t be cramming in his academic pursuits at the last second or feeling like he is giving up other things in order to stay sharp over the summer. Also, giving him a voice in setting the schedule will engender more significant buy-in and a greater likelihood that he’ll be willing to stick with it. Not to mention, he’ll also have a stronger sense of accomplishment if you check off the work on the calendar as you go!
Don’t treat reading, writing, doing math problems or any kind of academic work AS work: If you want your child to keep her skills honed, she is going to need to keep working on them throughout the summer. But if you play into the attitude that doing summer reading or regularly practicing math facts is a chore, it is going to make the task all the more difficult. Try to find entertaining activities to keep the knowledge flowing- find fun websites for practicing math, read at the beach or the park, and use the Internet to come up with games that make learning more enjoyable. Sites such as funbrain.com, cleverisland.com, and gameclassroom.com are wonderful resources to help keep summer learning entertaining and engaging. You can find additional educational websites and iPad/iPhone/Android apps on the Resources page on the Engaging Minds website.
Use summer activities as a learning tool: Time at the beach or out in nature can provide a wonderful opportunity for planned science “experiments,” and a week at a vacation house means time to practice some math while cooking together. Going to a new state or country? Have your child be the family historian and research the destination, both its history and key sites to visit on your trip. Pick up an extra copy of your child’s summer reading books and read alongside him; you can even have a family “book group” and discuss the reading and do fun activities associated with the books!
Write, write, write: Whether it’s a blog, a journal, letters or emails to friends back home or even just jotting down notes about her summer reading, your child can help avoid summer learning loss by doing some writing every day. You can have your child author a travel guide to vacation spots visited or even to your hometown if you’re doing a “staycation.” The important thing is to have her put pen or pencil to paper (or fingers to keyboard) on a regular basis so that she is building on her existing writing skills rather than having them atrophy over the summer months.
Build in formalized learning time (while still having fun): If your child has been coming to Engaging Minds throughout the school year (or has been going to any other tutoring center or private tutor), summer is NOT the time to stop or pause this arrangement. By continuing with regularly scheduled tutoring sessions over the summer (when tutors’ schedules are more flexible and sessions can be more focused on your child’s individual preferences and can be geared more towards fun activities), you are making sure that your child segues successfully into the next school year.
Summer should be a time for your child to relax and recharge, but that doesn’t mean it can’t also be an opportunity for her to keep learning and growing as a student. By keeping a positive attitude about summer learning and maintaining a schedule that is active for the body AND the mind during these warmer months, you are helping your child build confidence and boost her skills and knowledge. When she enters her new classroom(s) in the fall, she will be able to do so knowing she is up to the task and ready to roll! Have a wonderful summer, and we’ll see you at Engaging Minds!