6 Ways to Prevent Summer Slide

The summer slide is a decline in a child’s academic skills that occurs over the summer vacation when school is not in session. Summer slide goes by a number of names, including the summer learning loss and the summer brain drain, but in essence, they all mean the same thing: over the summer vacation, children are likely to forget a lot of the information and knowledge they have picked up over the past academic year. Summer slide is a phenomenon that occurs among almost every student of every age, but it has a particular tendency to occur in upper elementary when children are learning a lot of new concepts for the very first time.

It can be hard to tell whether or not the summer slide is happening over the vacation period as nothing seems to change on a day-to-day basis. If a child is forgetting the answers to simple math questions; forgetting simple grammatical rules, such as capitalization of proper nouns; forgetting the difference between their, they’re and there; and/or is not reading as fluently as they were previously, then it is a sign that a loss of learning has taken place. Here are 9 quick and easy ways to stop summer slide.

1. Introduce a summer reading program. Whether it is 15 minutes of reading per day, or finishing 3 books over the break, creating a summer reading program for children can be a simple yet highly effective way to keep them learning over the summer break. Ask a child to choose 2 or 3 books (that are appropriate to their reading level) to finish over the summer break. Then, when they have finished each book, ask them to prepare a 5-minute presentation on some of their favorite things about the book.

2. Bring math into the real world. The variety of activities that most children partake in over the summer presents the perfect opportunity to test out some real-world math skills. Something as simple as going for a walk or heading to the swimming pool can lead to any number of math problems being discussed. Whatever is planned over the summer vacation, see if an element of math can be added to it. A trip to the supermarket becomes “the deal says I can get three packets of burgers for $10, but they are $3.50 each. Is the deal worth it?” Or a simple walk could be elevated by asking “If every tree has 2,000 leaves on it and there are 10 trees, how many leaves are there in total?” The possibilities are endless.

3. Get children outside in the garden. The sun is out (hopefully), children are looking for something to do, and the garden could do with a spruce up. Luckily, all the ingredients are there for a fun summer learning activity! By getting children to help in the garden, they are being introduced to a nature-filled classroom on their doorstep, which can open up a whole new world of exploration and potential interests. Ask children to dig up an old flowerbed and see which animals they can discover living in the soil. Will they be able to spot a worm, a woodlouse or a butterfly hiding away somewhere in the garden? If so, how many of each?

4. Visit an educational place that isn’t the classroom. If you can arrive early enough to beat the lines, summer is the best time to take a trip to a museum or other place of learning with children. After a while, classrooms can lose their allure to young minds, but a trip to the science museum, the zoo or even a national park can help spark or rekindle a love of learning in children, and this is something that could prove invaluable come the start of school! If there are hands-on activities taking place in the museum or another educational location, then try and sign children up for them as this is a fantastic way to help them learn more from the experience.

5. Get the equipment ready and start baking. The perfect activity for a trip to see the grandparents, learning while baking is a great pick for many children as on top of the chance to learn and grow their knowledge, more often than not there is a tasty treat at the end! Luckily, baking lends itself to math very well, and making a cake means children will be able to test out their fractions, and weighing skills among others. As the cake is being created, children can be asked how much of each ingredient would be needed to make a cake that would be twice as large or one-quarter of the size. Children could also be challenged to convert the unit of weight between pounds and ounces.

6. Set some learning-based goals. When school ends for the summer, learning does too.’ Try to avoid this mindset. Regular practice can help to prevent the worst of the brain drain. This can be split into slots over the week so that it can be fitted around any planned activities. Start small by introducing 15 minutes of daily work practice, regardless of the topic, and by doing this children will be able to track and monitor their own progress over the summer. Print off a simple weekly calendar from the internet and pin it to the fridge. Then sit down with a child to make ‘math Mondays’, ‘science Saturdays’ etc.

Allison Green
Boston Tutoring Services

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