Three Ways Parents Can Stop the Summer Slide

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 -- Megan Sternke

As the school year starts winding down it’s easy to see your child get more and more excited about the endless possibilities that summer holds. While they’re probably thinking of things like time spent with friends, days at the beach, and playing sports in the sun, you might want to consider how to fit in some educational opportunities as well.

A summer solely filled with play might sound like a perfect scenario (especially to your kids), but the consequences are far from it. In fact, ASCD reports that on average elementary students lose over one month of learning throughout the summer—known as the “summer slide”. To make sure that your child is prepared to continue learning in the fall, here are three tips to make the summer vacation months an academically productive time!

1. Make Reading the Norm

Numerous studies have concluded that reading regularly is one of the most effective ways that students can avoid summer learning losses. And, there are lots of ways that you can incorporate reading into your summer! First, set a good example for your child by reading frequently. If your child sees you enjoying reading they are much more likely to make the connection between reading as a pleasurable activity rather than seeing it as a required chore.

Also, don’t forget to provide your child with lots of reading materials around the house so they are never short of options when it comes time to read. Add to your home collection by planning a fun outing to the library with your child. To ensure that they actually finish the books you come home with, encourage your child to pick out titles themselves that are appealing and at the appropriate reading level. When children choose their own books they are 90% more likely to finish reading them!

Quick tip: A simple way to know if a book is at your child’s reading level is to do the five finger test. Allow your child to decide on a book then turn to a page with plenty of words on it. Ask them to read the page and raise a finger for each word they do not know. If your child has five or more unknown words on that page, it’s very likely that the book is above their reading level and you may want to encourage them to look for another option. If your child still wants to read the book, be sure to set aside time to read it together so that you can assist with comprehension.

2. Incorporate Math Daily

In addition to lost reading skills, children are at risk for even steeper losses in math skills over the summer. This is because reading is more naturally woven into a child’s daily life, while math isn’t as instinctive. Compared to the simplicity of picking up a book to pass a lazy summer day, it’s much harder to incorporate math in a fun and relaxed manner. One way that you can help your child keep up on their math is by prompting them with relevant math questions throughout the day. For example, ask younger children to count the amount of change in your pocket, or cook a meal with them to practice fractions skills. If your child is older, ask them to compute the car’s gas mileage during a family road trip. These simple questions will keep your child practicing math concepts throughout the break, and keep their skills from evaporating in the summer heat.

If you’re looking for more structured math practice, consider web-based educational programs, such as Study Island for Home, that are easy to use and can capture your child’s interest while encouraging academic progress.   

3. Encourage Creative and Interactive Learning

When all is said and done, what students and parents both love about summer vacation is the freedom to build one’s own schedule—and that can certainly include educational experiences. Take time over the summer to help your students develop and complete a couple of do-it-yourself projects of their own choosing. There is no need to put boundaries on these projects; simply encourage your child to dive into a topic that interests them and inspires creativity.

Summer is also a great chance to try going on a couple of educational “field trips” with your child. For example, visit a local history museum or spend an afternoon studying animals and environments at the zoo. If you are running low on fun field trip ideas to enjoy with your child check out this list for inspiration. With a little planning, summer learning opportunities are endless for your family!

Ready for a fun and productive summer 2016? Let Edmentum help with a free trial of Study Island for Home! Whether kids need to catch up or stay ahead, Study Island for Home can help them succeed.