The last day of school is a moment of unadulterated joy for most children. A sense of exuberance, exhaustion, and relief comes over students. No more homework. No more grades.
Yet, over the summer, children can lose momentum and forget important skills learned throughout the school year. Without stress or academic overload, children can keep their brains stimulated throughout summer break.
Encourage your children to read continuously. It can be a book, a news article, or even an article in their favorite magazine. Let your children choose the topic and the material. Read with your children. Take turns reading, or even listen to a book on tape together and discuss the plot and characters. Children of all ages benefit from listening to books and discussing the content. The length, complexity, and “reading level” of the material does not matter; the important thing is that your children keep reading, discussing plots, making inferences, and dissecting characters.
If your child is fighting reading, try to make reading a summertime social event. Host a book club, or look into having her join a book club at a local library. Book clubs are an effective way to motivate your child, take your child out of her comfort zone, and add a social component to reading. Plus, idea sharing amongst peers is a positive method of building a child’s confidence while fortifying her skills.
Math is another subject that often falls victim to the summer slide. Many educational specialists believe that children lose up to two months of school year learning. But parents can bring math into daily activities, encouraging children to relate what they learned to real life experiences. If you go out for lunch, have your child calculate the tip on the check. When you go food shopping, your child can estimate the price of everything in your shopping cart before you pay for your groceries. Before your child dives into the pool, have her calculate the volume of water in the pool. Or have your child cook a meal, measuring food portions, following recipes, and measuring ingredients to practice fractions. Each one of these simple activities can help your child maintain math skills throughout their break.
If you are visiting places away from home this summer, have your child do some preliminary research. This skillset helps them to organize and process information, in addition to learning something new. Or play geography with your children during car rides, encouraging your child to name a city, state, or country that begins with the last letter of the place you named.
Of course, summer is a relaxing and easy time to catch up on academic skills that were lagging throughout the school year and to preview content for the next school year as well. Devoting an hour each day to learning, your child can still enjoy the summer break without experiencing the summer slide.