As the summer months draw near, more and more parents look for ways to keep their kids entertained and occupied. But while figuring out which summer camp to send their children to tends to top the list, the biggest priority parents should tackle first is preventing something known as Summer Slide.
What is Summer Slide?
According to the National Summer Learning Association (NSLA), all young people experience some amount of learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer months. This is what is most commonly referred to as Summer Slide.
While there are many other factors that could contribute to this loss in learning, the overall lack of educational opportunities present in a child’s life during the summer months can wreak havoc on their learning abilities. Many parents feel compelled to ensure that their child remains as engaged as possible in their own education-both in and out of school.
If you’re a parent who finds themselves lost when it comes to finding learning opportunities for their children during the summer months, the following 5 tips on how to prevent Summer Slide should come in handy:
Make Literacy Last
Literacy loss is one of the biggest symptoms of Summer Slide, which is why as a parent it’s your job to surround your student with as many books, magazines, periodicals, etc. as possible. The key is to give your students access to reading material in ways that work for them and you. Here are a few proven literacy strategies you can employ during the summer months:
Read to/with your children – Pick a book with your child and schedule time each day/week to read it to them or with them. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) suggests reading aloud to your student has many benefits that stretch far beyond literacy – such as increased imagination and motivation to learn.
Get a library card – Believe it or not, libraries still exist – despite living in such a digital world. Get your child a library card and schedule time throughout the summer to visit and procure new reading material. In addition to hosting workshops and events, libraries also offer reading programs for children.
Join a book club – Many schools today offer summer literacy programs designed to keep students engaged throughout the warm summer months. If such a program or club doesn’t exist at your child’s school, start your own in your neighborhood or with your child’s friends. Young children respond well to challenges, so why not make it fun.
Subscribe to something – Literacy is not just about books. Many parents find success in subscribing to various magazines or periodicals and encouraging their children to read the articles that interest them the most. The goal is to get your student excited every time a new edition of their favorite magazine shows up in the mail.
Create Educational Experiences
The long summer days offer parents the perfect opportunity to create educational experiences for their students. The trick is finding something your child will be interested in and giving it a little academic twist. Here are a few examples of educational experiences you and your child can share during summer break:
- Field Trip(s) – Take a trip to a museum to learn about history or archeology, or head to a nearby zoo or aquarium to learn about animal biology. If the indoor educational opportunities won’t cut it, why not take your child on a walking tour of your local community, explaining to them the history with every step.
- Plant a Garden – Teaching your child how to plant seeds and care for what grows teaches responsibility and instills pride. It’s also a great way to educate them on valuable gardening and agricultural concepts, in addition to skills that integrate math, science, art, health, and social studies.
- Cook with your kids – Your child will likely be pretty hungry throughout the summer season, so why not teach them how to cook and bake. Not only will teaching your kid to cook healthy food help combat obesity, but it can also teach valuable math skills when working with recipes and serving sizes.
- Summer Camp – Summer camp isn’t what it used to be. Instead of putting kids on a playground and allowing them to run wild all day, today’s version of summer camp has children learning various elements of STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math). Why not enroll your child in a summer camp that teaches them how to code or how to run a business?
Incorporate Education in Recreation
Perhaps the most popular part of summertime is the many recreational opportunities it creates – such as hiking, swimming, and any type of sports game you can think of. Engaging your child in a recreational activity is a plus, but incorporating an educational component into these activities is even better. Here are a few ways you can inject some learning into the various summertime sports activities your child participates in:
- Keep count – Whether it’s during summer sports camp or during a soccer or baseball game, why not encourage your child to keep track of just how many steps they’ve taken or how many calories they’ve burned. This can easily be accomplished using simple wearable devices like a Fitbit and can go along way toward teaching them about the science behind their physical health.
- Do the math – Professional sports athletes are primarily judged by their performance statistics. For instance, a baseball player is judged by a batting average; a quarterback may be judged by his completion percentage. If your child is on a sports team, encourage them to “do the math” and figure out their own statistics. Not only will this bolster their understanding of the sport, but it will also improve their math skills.
- History time out – There’s a good chance recreation will be part of your child’s life in some form or fashion – why not explain to them the history behind their sports of choice? For instance, did you know the first “golf-like game” ever recorded occurred in 1297? Understanding the origins of their sports makes for a great history lesson.
Turn Off TV; Turn on Imagination
The nighttime can be the hardest time of the day for a parent to keep their child occupied and engaged in learning. A lot of times, the television gets turned on. While educational programming has it benefits, so does turning off the television and encouraging your child to harness their imagination on their own. This can be achieved in many creative ways. Here are a few ideas you can use to engage your child in something other than the TV:
- Journaling – Not only is it therapeutic, but encouraging your child to write in a journal and catalog their thoughts, feelings, and experiences throughout the day is a great way to foster penmanship, as well as basic writing skills. The journal could also be an outlet for your child’s creative side, encouraging them to write fiction stories that stretch the limits of their imagination.
- Pen pal – Helping your child find a pen pal and encouraging them to communicate through letters, emails and even online video messaging is a great way to expand their horizons and learn about other cultures. Even having a pen pal on the other side of the country can open your child up to new and interesting things they may have never had access to before.
- An introduction to art – Encouraging your child to pick up a paintbrush or sketch pen instead of the TV remote is a great way to engage them in the artistic side of learning. Immersing your student in arts education can also have many benefits; such as higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower dropout rates.
Embrace Online Education
Online learning programs have proven to be an incredibly effective way to keep education on the minds of today’s youth – especially in the summertime. The flexibility it provides means your child can still partake in summer camp or sports programs, as well as any other educational initiatives you have planned for them. What’s more, online education is known to open even more doors to learning than traditional brick-and-mortar programs. Here are a few examples of how online learning can help keep your child engaged:
- Flexibility– Many online learning programs offer summer programming designed with a flexible approach to learning, meaning a student is able to complete assignments and take tests when it is most convenient for them. Not all schools follow this flexible approach, however, so be sure to do some research to ensure your student’s summer schedule doesn’t get bogged down with deadlines.
- Limitless learning – The beauty of online learning is that it knows no boundaries. Literally, nothing is off-limits in an online environment. Top online programs allow students to tackle a variety of subjects may or may not be available in other learning avenues.
- Get ahead/Stay ahead – Many online learning programs offered in the summer are designed to help students remain current in their studies-helping them avoid Summer Slide. Online learning opportunities could also allow your student to catch up on a subject they may be struggling with, or even get ahead of the game before school starts in the fall.
With summer coming up right around the corner, why not start brainstorming ways of engaging your child in their own education during their upcoming break from school.
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