We know that during the summer, our kids will be away from the classroom and away from learning. Many parents and teachers worry about “summer slide” – that’s when kids forget many of the lessons they learned during the school year.
Linda Morgan, editor of Parentmap and author of the book "Beyond Smart" has some ideas to keep education going during the summer.
Why is it important that kids keep learning during the summer?
We worry about summer learning loss, also called summer “brain drain.” Most students lose about two months of grade-level equivalency in skills over the summer months. We know that students score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do on those tests given a few months earlier.
Are there some skills that seem to suffer the most during this time?
Yes – math skills decline. Parents tend to keep their kids reading in the summer, but not all of them hit the math piece. Students fall an average of almost 2.6 months behind in math skills during the summer. Why? We are more likely to read to our kids, take them to the library or bookstore. There’s more focus on reading activities.
How can kids keep learning while still enjoying their summer vacation?
Make it fun. We can get kids involved in ordinary, every day activities that will help them learn. Plant a garden. Build a bookshelf. Go to a baseball game and talk about strategy and scores. There’s learning in baseball. Many schools now offer terrific summer camps and programs that often include technology or study skills, science and field trips. And many museums have summer programs that incorporate learning. All the libraries offer great summer reading programs for kids.
What are some easy ways parents can help their kids prevent summer slide?
Make sure your kids don’t forget their arithmetic. Do some grocery-store math: Ask, “What can we get for $10?” Or menu math: Ask your kids:
“What’s the most expensive meal on the menu?”
“What’s the least expensive?”
“If we have $20 to spend, what can we get?”
You can count and calculate just about everywhere you go.
Read aloud to your kids on a regular basis. Reading to preschool children is especially important, but reading with older kids on a regular basis will help them as well. And while you’re at it, review your child’s schoolwork with him. Focus on the subjects your child needs extra help with.
Talk to your children about their experiences and listen to their responses. Take the time to discuss their day at camp, with their friends, about their activities. Visit a museum or the aquarium and discuss the exhibits. Talk with them about the things you read and they read
No one is suggesting that parents “just say no” to technology altogether. But restrict their children’s screen time to two hours a day. Most kids are getting way more than that. And we can be intentional about what our children — Stick to the educational TV programs. And watch the shows with your kids.