By the end of the school year, most parents and children are ready for a much-needed break from all things academic! Summer is sunshine, the pool, popsicles, and a sandy beach, if you’re lucky. While de-stressing and relaxing is a necessary and healthy way to spend a summer vacation, research shows that if your summer plan does not include at least a few educationally enriching experiences, your child will experience the dreaded “summer slide.”
What is “summer slide” and how can we avoid it? While some kids experience academic growth in the summer due to various enrichment programs, other kids will experience a loss of skills. Depending on socio-economic factors, students can lose two months or more of reading and math computation achievement. Kids who are already struggling in school are especially susceptible to the “summer slide.” When fall comes, teachers can spend four to six weeks re-teaching material already mastered in the spring before they can move on to new objectives.
What can we as parents do to prevent this?
Get reading! According to Scholastic.com, reading just six “just right” books this summer can prevent regression. It’s important to choose a book that it not too easy and not too hard. A good rule of thumb for a chapter book reader is the student should make no more than five reading errors per page. The book should be comfortable for the child to read while still exposing him/her to new vocabulary words.
Check out your local library’s summer reading program. Libraries are doing more and more every year to draw the community in and provide educational and entertaining programming for kids. Often times, local libraries provide incentives for kids to read: at the Ferndale Area District Library in Ferndale, Michigan, kids who participated in the summer reading program in 2014 received a free book at the end of the summer. In the past, the Royal Oak Library in Royal Oak, Michigan, has had weekly prize drawings for children who fill out their summer reading “bingo” cards. Ask your local librarian for good book recommendations for your child. (But, remember, let your child be the decider! Kids who pick out their own books are more invested in finishing them.)
Focus on Math! We hear a lot of talk about summer reading, but not as much about summer math. How can we keep math learning alive in the summer months? Let us count the ways:
1. Play cards – a friendly game of War or the more peaceful version “Top It” is always fun. Teach your child gin rummy or hearts. Keep score.
2. Pick up a few math-oriented board games – Set, Rummikub, Connect Four, Sorry! (or any game with counting), Scrabble (a word game where math counts!), Rack-o, or Sequence.
3. Learn chess – there’s a version out there called “No Stress Chess” which really is super easy and makes the kids feel like brainiacs.
4. Let your child help you pay at the cash register. Yes, you will need cash for this. Hand over the money and watch while your son or daughter figures out what bills to use and what change to expect back. Life skills!
5. Go online. There are great, free websites with cool math games (www.coolmath-games.com or www.math-play.com, for instance). Also, you can get a summer membership on www.ixl.com. The website provides math problem practice for pre-K all the way to 12th grade for $9.99/month.
With these resources, you can beat the summer slide and enjoy your popsicles too!