My daughter is 6 and she’s been out of school for about a week already. This long summer — 12 weeks! — is great for lots of fun and time together, but it’s easy to see how all that time away from the classroom might cause her skills to slip a bit.
This phenomenon has a name, the summer slide, and it’s a real thing. Research has shown that kids do less well on standardized tests at the end of summer than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer, and kids can lose up to two months of grade level equivalency in math skills over the summer.
Of course we don’t want summer to feel like school, for our kids or for us, but there are simple things we can do to help prevent or at least limit summer slide.
One of the most important things we can do is to keep our kids reading. Just 20 minutes a day is enough to keep up that skill. Plan a weekly trip to the library and let you kids check out whatever they want, then make time daily for you to read to them, for them to read to you and for silent reading (or any combination depending on your child’s age).
Another great idea is taking kids to museums, historical sites and cultural events and to talk about what you see and how those things and activities relate to things they’ve been learning. We’re heading to the children’s museum this afternoon, which has great STEM activities as well as more traditional play.
Work a little age-appropriate learning into your day, whether through at-home science experiments, online math games or even watching educational videos. Search online for learning activities related to your child’s interests to make learning more fun for them. I added some activities related to math, typing and reading into our summer activity pot, so when she’s looking for something to do she knows those sorts of things are options.
If you have the means, enrolling kids in summer learning opportunities is also a great way to beat the summer slide. Whether it’s a weeklong engineering camp, an art day camp or a full-on summer program, every little bit of learning helps. My daughter will actually be in a summer program for about half the summer, and while it’s not the same as a classroom, it should keep her focused on learning in a fun way through the summer.