The Summer Slide: How to Stop It
Activities to keep your kids' minds sharp during the summer.
Do your kids seem a little less ready for school after each summer break? If so, don’t worry. They’re far from alone. It’s a common experience known as the summer learning slide. Research shows that kids typically lose the equivalent of a month’s worth of learning during the summer break and it gets worse as they get older. What can parents do to avoid the slide? Here are eight activities that have worked for my 15-year-old son, and I bet they’ll help your kids too.
Read books regularly
Since my son learned to read, we’ve had him read one fiction and one non-fiction book every other week to keep his reading and comprehension skills at grade level. It is summer after all, so instead of assigning him books, like he’s used to from school, we let him choose what to read.
Keep a vacation journal
We take at least one big family vacation every summer. Ever since my son was very young we’ve had him keep a daily journal to write about what we did that day. It’s been a great way to keep his writing skills up-to-date and document his childhood.
Email family and friends
To strengthen my son’s writing skills, we also have him email family and friends, especially those we don’t get to see much.
Teenagers prefer texts, but we insist on emails because, as every parent knows, texts are usually full of broken sentences, odd grammar and spelling mistakes.
Play (smart) board games
In the evening, whether on vacation or at home, we play math games like Monopoly or spelling games like Scrabble. The key is to focus on the fun part —the competition — rather what they can learn. If you do that, the lessons happen automatically.
Watch (quality) movies
Aside from a board game or two, we also watch movies in the evening. With all the streaming services available, it’s not hard to find a documentary or feature film, which also happens to be educational. Movies are fun ways to learn about other time periods, cultures and current events.
Although we try to make our son’s summer activities as social as possible, we also indulge his interest in anything technological and allow him to download all the educational apps he wants. He really likes quiz apps, which, like the board game Trivial Pursuit, aim to develop kids’ general knowledge.
Museum visits are a great way to acquaint your kids with the arts, history, and natural science. Even a visit to your town’s museum to learn about its history can be surprisingly fun. (To find museums near you, go to MetroKids.com/PlacestoVisit.)
Take nature trips
We try to spend as much time as possible outdoors in the summer.
One of the most educational and fun things you can do with your kids is to go into nature and learn about animal life. Try the John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove in Audubon, PA, which has 175 acres with birding and hiking trails, including the new Fledgling Trail for kids. A new museum opened this month with hands-on exhibits. (To find nature centers near you, go to MetroKids.com/Nature.)
Tanni Haas, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.