With its less structured days and homework free nights, the arrival of summer brings a much needed break from the demands of the school year for many families. While summer break offers the benefits of additional fun and freedom, students who do not engage in any learning reinforcement during this time frame can become victims of what is known as “summer slide.” Studies have shown that these children can regress from one to three months in their academic skills.
Here are 10 things you can do to strengthen your child’s skills and minimize summer learning loss during break:
1. Plan an Educational Vacation. Find out what your child will be learning during the upcoming school year and plan an educational trip to give your child first-hand experience to prepare him for the year ahead, such as a visit to a civil war era battleground or the local science center. Plan a visit to a museum or or schedule a side trip during your beach vacation to explore sites of historical significance.
2. Find Your Child’s Passion and Ways to Develop It. Help your child identify a hobby with a purpose, such as starting a rock and mineral collection or learning a new art or craft. Enroll your child in a summer camp or program specializing in this activity, or find a friend with an expertise in the chosen area to teach and mentor your child.
3. Encourage Your Child to Try Something New. Learning a new activity that is of interest to your child is a great way to encourage brain development. Expose your child to a new sport, such as tennis, take a one day class with your child at the local ceramics shop, or have him or her learn a new game such as chess or checkers.
4. Cook Together. Kids can gain practical mathematical knowledge when measuring out what is needed to make a meal or bake a dessert. Step up the learning a notch by having them double or halve a recipe.
5. Start a Family Book Club. Encourage full family participation by taking turns selecting the books, have everyone read the same book individually, and then meet to discuss the characters and storyline. Make the meeting fun by including snacks or holding the gathering at a local coffee or ice cream shop.
6. Plan a Trip to the Grocery Store. This is a great way to develop academic as well as life skills. Teach your child how to compare prices, discuss unit pricing and how buying more of an item might be cheaper. Practice percentages with items on sale.
7. Journal Writing. Give each child a notebook and have your kids chronicle their summer adventures. Encourage them to draw pictures and write about their experiences. This will help maintain writing skills and foster creativity.
8. Summer Pen Pals. Have your children write letters to classmates or send postcards to them from your vacation locales. This will help them to keep up with their writing skills while staying in touch with friends they may not get a chance to see over the summer.
9. Visit Your Local Library Often. Encourage your child to take advantage of the opportunity to choose and read from a diverse selection of books and to participate in the various summer reading programs and activities the library has to offer.
10. Pull Out Those Board Games. Many popular board games help reinforce math, language and reading skills. In addition, playing board games together offers the family a chance to spend time together, learning and having fun together.