Preventing the "Summer Slide" with Your Child's Learning

By Stephanie Hewitt, Learning Pathways, 07/02/2020

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When students are out of school for long breaks, especially summer break, they are at risk of losing some of the knowledge they worked hard to acquire the previous school year. Educators sometimes refer to this as the “summer slide.” Students are even more at risk of losing some of the information they previously learned due to recent school closures. The vast majority of students don’t need hours and hours of tutoring or worksheets to prevent the summer slide. Rather, there are some simple things parents can do to keep their children learning over the summer break.

  1. Read! The single most important thing you can have your child do over school breaks is to read. The ultimate goal is to help kids learn to love to read. Make sure the books are at a level they can be independent and successful in reading or read with them if it is above their level. Otherwise, don’t worry too much about finding the right difficulty or challenge level. If your child dislikes reading, find interesting and engaging books to read with them or listen to audiobooks in the car or at home. Visit the library to check out a variety of books. Aim for 20-30 minutes per day of reading.

  2. Play games. For older students, learning apps on the tablet or iPad can be fun and educational. Family board games are also a great activity to encourage and practice learning, such as Scrabble, Bananagrams, Boggle, Yahtzee, and Chess. For younger students, play rhyming and word games or simple math fact games. The car is a great place to play some of these games for short periods. Some examples include:

    • Pick a word family (such as “at”) and see who can come up with words that rhyme (“mat,” “cat,” “sat”).

    • Play games with sounds such as “what is the beginning sound in the word ‘cat’?” and “What word do you get if you change the /p/ in “pick” to /k/?”

  3. Involve your child in everyday activities at home or out in the community that involve learning. For example, have your child help you bake cookies by reading and following the recipe. Talk about math and fractions in the context of the recipe. At the store, have your child help you count money or coins. Practice reading clocks and figuring out how much time until something. Have your child read road signs while in the car.

  4. Keep a summer journal. Encourage your kids to keep a journal where they write about their summer activities. This helps them continue to practice writing. Younger students can draw pictures of their summer activities to help practice fine motor skills.