The summer slide, also known as summer learning loss, is a major problem that has been the subject of extensive research since 1906. Unfortunately, even after all this time, there is simply no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. During the summer months, parents need to take the reins on helping their children continue to learn and retain what they were taught during the course of the school year in order to combat the summer slide.
Encourage Summer Reading
One of the easiest ways to combat the summer slide is through summer reading. You can sign your child up with a summer reading program or have them join a summer book club—both are great options. However, studies have shown that children gain even more benefits when reading material of their own choosing. If they want to engage with the content of what they’re reading, they’re more likely to put extra effort into it, which can have amazing results.
For lower income families, this isn’t always as easy as it should be. Local libraries are pretty much ghost towns now, but they are an invaluable resource if your family needs free or low-cost options. Libraries have become more interconnected than ever before, with systems such as interlibrary loan that makes it super easy to get your hands on nearly any book you could possibly want. Some libraries also hold book sale events where you can purchase books for rock-bottom prices once they have outlived their time on the library shelf.
Don’t Forget About Math
The summer slide is a problem for both reading and math, but studies have shown that children lose more of their math education than they do their reading education. While the reason isn’t known for certain, it is suspected that children simply are not given access to math problems in their daily life, so they fail to retain critical math skills. Some ways to combat math loss are:
- Find math in daily situations and make simple problems for your child to solve.
- Find family-friendly games that require math, such as Sushi Go, Blokus, or Ticket to Ride.
- Roll reading and math into one by reading short stories about math.
Finding ways to make math fun can be a little more difficult sometimes, but it’s a critical life skill that often does not get the attention it deserves outside of the classroom.
Use Nature as a Tool For Learning
Summer is the perfect time to head outside, and that can be a great learning opportunity for your children, too. If you’re heading to the pool or beach, find a few simple water activities and experiments that you can use to teach your kids about the properties of water. Create a short lesson on lungs, why we need to hold our breath, and how gills on fish allow them to breathe while they’re underwater. You might even learn something new and interesting!
You can also head out to trails and identify plants, trees, and wildlife. It can be fun to turn it into a friendly competition—who can spot the most birds or correctly identify the most plants. This can even be a good opportunity to teach math—if you saw X number of red birds and Y number of blue birds, what percentage did you see of each? Nature is an amazing teacher.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun!
Learning should be fun no matter what age you are, but it’s especially important when you’re trying to engage children. Every opportunity you take advantage of should be fun-focused and it can be helpful to offer encouragement and rewards whenever your child completes a problem or shows that they have been engaging.
It’s also important to remember that anything can be a learning opportunity, but not everything has to be. Everyone needs time to turn their brain off and just enjoy some mindless fun, so remember to leave room for those moments.
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