Summer is often regarded as the most joyful season of the year by people who live in temperate regions. Families spend lots of time outside, and schools are closed. Outdoor activities and summer fun are great for children, however parents should remember that when students are out of school, and not engaged in academic activities, their progress may stagnate. They may lose the skills they have gained with so much effort over the school year. To prevent such decline, educators, students, families, and schools need to form partnerships to be sure children are engaged in some sort of academic learning over the summer.
Here are some specific strategies you can use with your children to prevent the summer slide many kids suffer from – and possibly even help them make summer gains. You may well have tools or strategies of your own to help your children – if so, please just add my suggestions to your own toolkit.
Strategies to help your kids achieve summer gains
- Enroll your child in summer school. Get in touch with your school administration, school social workers, and guidance department – ask what community resources are available for your child.
- Communicate with your child’s teachers. Ask them if your child has required summer assignments that are due the next school year. Ask them where your child can get the materials or books they need.
- Ask the teachers for additional reading and math materials.
- Make sure your child is aware that summer slide is undesirable, and that you are going to help them make summer gains instead. Many students do not want to do school work over the summer vacation, and may resist your efforts. Also, some students may conclude that you are dissatisfied with their progress, and that the summer work is remedial in nature, rather than intended to preserve the academic gains they made over the year. It is best to communicate with your child clearly about the goal of preventing summer slide, especially if academic work is not something you required from them in previous summers.
- Make trips with your child to the local library. He or she will find lots of great books to read, and your child will benefit from spending time in the library environment, where people are engaged in reading and research.
- Allow your child to choose audiobooks as well as print books.
- Read to your child every day, particularly if he or she is young. If you cannot read to your child, or do not have the time, make sure to find others who can do so. If you have older children, ask them to read to the younger ones.
- Ask your child about what they read. Please make sure you pay attention when they share their reading with you. Your children will benefit if you pay attention to them when they are sharing their excitement.
- Make a formal schedule for every activity. Be specific. For example, explain that “from 10:00 am to 11:00 am we will do math.” You know your own child’s attention span, and should adjust the length of time accordingly.
If you need help with how to prevent summer slide and instead create summer gain, please contact your child’s school before the summer vacation begins. Please reach out and ask for help!