Inside: Summer learning loss, otherwise known as the Summer Slide is detrimental to our kids’ learning progress. But it can be avoided by doing simple activities throughout the summer. And the best news is: even if you do only 1 activity to prevent summer slide, it will help your child. The easiest way to prevent Summer Slide will only take a few minutes each day.
When I taught elementary school, it was a known fact that we would all be spending September and most of October reviewing old skills that were taught last year. We built it into our lesson plans.
What a waste of time for ALL of us…teachers and students. Instead of jumping in to new material, we had to backtrack. We wasted weeks and sometimes months of valuable learning time because of the dreaded Summer Slide.
What is Summer Slide?
It’s summer learning loss. It’s the backwards movement our children make over summer break when they forget what was taught to them in the previous school year. So, this loss of learning must be made up every fall when the next school year resumes. And unfortunately, studies have shown that kids who suffer from Summer Slide every summer will be up to two years behind their peers by the 6th grade.
The good news is that it is simple to prevent Summer Slide.
It only takes 2-3 hours a week to prevent summer learning loss. And if you set up a daily schedule, you can not only prevent the loss, you can actually get ahead of the curve for next year.
In our house, we do daily “Summer Learning.” It is non-negotiable and something they just know is going to happen. And this year, they earn extra screen time if they complete it without complaining. It has worked like a charm!
In our house we do a little reading, writing, math, and problem solving every day. If I’m feeling creative or I have the energy, we’ll do fun activities, like spell words into chocolate pudding.
If the day got away from us and I’m trying to do three things at once while cooking dinner, I’ll set my older students up with workbook pages. Whatever works to get it done.
But if this is too much for you to take on or you’re already feeling overwhelmed, just know that doing something, anything will help. Even if you do it once. Even if you haven’t done anything since June, you can start now.
What’s the number one thing every kid absolutely needs to do?
That’s it. Super simple.
Have them read for at least 20-30 minutes every day.
Read to them even if they’re old enough to read independently. Choose a cool chapter book or maybe one of your childhood favorites to read to them. Kids love to be read to even when they’re “too big” for it. Start a book club with your pre-teen or teenager.
And let your child read to you. Even your pre-readers can tell a story using the pictures. Often, they have their favorite books memorized. My youngest could “read” Green Eggs and Ham even before she knew all of her letters and sounds.
The best way to motivate your kids?
Our absolute favorite, go to reading activity is Can You Read 100 Books This Summer? Checklist. I love it because it keeps them motivated. They love it because they think it’s hilarious to read in “weird” places like under a table. We updated it to “chapters” for my independent reader.
Letting them pick out the books they want to read is one of the easiest ways to encourage readers…especially reluctant readers. One of our favorite family date nights is browsing a used book store and choosing out a book to take home. They usually start reading on the drive home.
If you’re feeling extra enthusiastic and motivated, you can try some reading skills in addition to reading books:
For independent readers, focus on reading comprehension and answering questions “thick questions.”
We also try to write something every day.
For pre-writers: They can tell you a story as you write it down. They can practice their fine motor skills and can write their letters and their name. My daughter loves using whiteboards, chalkboards and painting with water.
For beginning writers: They can write a sentence and draw a picture. More advanced writers can focus on using capitals, finger spaces, punctuation, and sounding out their words.
For independent writers: They can write in a journal, write a creative story using a fidget spinner, can write a letter to a penpal, or write a book.
To keep it fun, they can write with markers or gel pens or they can type their writing.
We count out apples and cookies and we read numbers on signs. My son is learning coins and if he can count my change when we’re shopping, he gets to keep it. We skip count in the car and we bake together. We read clocks wherever we go.
Pre- Kinder kiddos: Focus on counting, number recognition, patterns and math concepts like “more or less.”
Kinder through 2nd math kiddos: Focus on skip counting, number sense with two digits, and simple addition and subtraction strategies such as: doubles, doubles plus one and ways to make 10. Time and money are also great things to work on.
3rd and above kiddos: Focus on multiplication facts!!!, place value, and division
I am a firm believer that multiplication has to be memorized to make life in math class bearable. The sooner they memorize, the easier everything else becomes…division, fractions, equations, algebra, least common denominators, and geometry. I’ll step down off my soapbox, but seriously, require your kids to memorize them!! If you want to use flashcards, definitely use these. They help kids learn by using fact families so they’re absolutely brilliant. And triangular.
If we have time, we also try to work on a puzzle or on a new skill.
Kids who can problem solve at attack puzzles think in creative, out of the box ways. It’s an awesome skill to have to be able to look at a problem and attack it. Puzzles can be literally puzzles or Sudoku, brain teasers, crosswords, games and word searches.
The new skills that my kids have worked on over the summer include: typing, coding, shoe tying, jacket zippering, bike riding, and cutting with scissors. It’s the skills we rarely have time for during the school year so they sometimes fall between the cracks. But no one wants a third grader who can’t tie their shoes. And if you can’t ride your bike, you can’t ride to school with the “big kids.”
Depending on where you live, you may still have a full month of summer left, while the rest of us are already shopping for school supplies and figuring out how to get organized and ready for a new school year.
It doesn’t matter how much time is left. Start reading now and it counts. It’s valuable. It’s worth it.
It will help them be ahead of the curve and ready to take on their new school year. Their new teachers this fall will thank you. All teachers everywhere will thank you. And one day, your kids will thank you. Well, maybe not. Making them successful, well rounded people is a thankless job most days.
What new skills do you want your kids to learn this summer?
Do you read with your kids everyday? What are your favorite books to share together?