One of the biggest difficulties that parents face during the summer time with their kids is preventing summer slide. Summer slide is the amount of learning that kids lose during the summer and how much they forget from what they learned the previous year. Here are my 8 tried and true ways to prevent summer slide that are fun and easy to implement for both kids and parents!
Often teachers have to spend the first entire month of school on review. This takes up a lot of the time that could be used for learning new material, for getting to know the kids, etc. I am a huge proponent of making sure that our kids are learning all summer long. This not only helps them remember things that they’ve learned from the past year, but also helps prepare for the new year. Also, I found over several years of working with my own kids that students will have an easier transition going from summer back to school when they’re consistently used to learning.
Today I’m going to share some suggestions for ways that you can prevent summer slide, encourage constant learning in your own home, and do it in a way that won’t take away from summer fun!
Ways to Prevent Summer Slide
One of my absolute favorite ways to prevent summer slide, especially for the pre-K to third grade level is through creative play. Creative play encompasses a whole big variety of different activities that your kids can either do independently or with your help. For example, did you know that one of the best creative play activities to learn math skills, engineering skills, and problem solving is actually playing with Legos? Yep! Also, playing with Legos is recommended by occupational therapists for developing fine motor skills which are needed for things like writing and using scissors.
Other forms of creative play involve things like Play-Doh, doing crafts, imaginary games, and playing board and card games. All these activities not only strengthen your child’s fine motor skills and their creativity skills, they also strengthen their problem-solving abilities. Plus, playing a board game or card game requires children to memorize basic rules and follow them, to play successfully. If they’re playing with their parents, grandparents, siblings, or friends this also really helps improve their ability to work with other people. That is an incredibly important skill to develop in the pre-K to third grade age range. Most teachers find that the biggest difficulties they have with students is their ability to get along with others and follow basic rules.
Our family spends a lot of time in the car during the summer, even if it’s just a couple hour drive down to Ikea. One of our favorite ways to pass the time in the car is to play a verbal trivia game! We usually pick a subject, like math, history, or pop culture. Then depending on where our strengths are in each of those subjects, my husband and I will take turns giving the kids trivia questions.
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We make sure to include ones that are super easy for the 4 year old, and ones that are challenging for the gifted 11 year old. This often means very interesting drives, with questions ranging from basic letter sounds to Greek mythology to what Pokémon sleeps all the time. This is a great way to challenge your kids, provide friendly competition, and help them practice storing information in their long term memory. This is also a game you can play at dinner time too!
Educational Computer Time
Sometimes you’ve just need a break, and that’s where I love educational computer time. I have a whole bunch of online resources for distance learning that are great for kids of all ages and skill levels. My kids love spending time playing math games online, and these are excellent for helping their retention and recall of math facts. They also enjoy doing typing games, reading books online, and finding tutorials for things they want to learn how to do.
Encouraging Individual Interests
Kids can often feel overwhelmed during the school year. Between school, sports practice, extracurriculars, family time, and homework, kids often have no free time to explore their own interests. Especially in a big family, kids’ interests can often get overlooked in favor of the daily routine. When things are slower during the summer, it’s a great time to give your kids the extra time and opportunity to learn about something they are interested in. My oldest loves anime and would love to be an anime artist one day. She’s been using her free time to watch tutorial on YouTube, practice her drawing skills, and create her own small comic books.
Giving kids the ability to explore their own interests is a great way to help them develop new skills, gain self confidence in their own abilities, and even possibly figure out what they may like to do for a career one day!
Maintain Your Routine
You all know I love a good routine. Our routine actually doesn’t change one bit during the summer, except for not having to do school pickup and drop off. Well, and we don’t get up until 7-8 am instead of 5 am! The kids still have breakfast first thing, then do some reading or computer learning time. Then they have some free time to work on their interests. After lunch they have free time to do a list of pre-approved activities (reading, coloring, playing with legos, etc.)
Since I work at home while taking care of 4 kids, my patience is usually gone by 3 pm on a good day. That’s usually when I break out tv, video games, or free time on the computer. By 6pm we’re usually having dinner, and then the kids go to bed around 8pm. Yes, I know that’s early. My kids do their best when they get 9-11 hours of sleep, and we adjust our routines to prioritize healthy sleep.
Managing Screen Time
It can be VERY tempting to use the tv as a constant babysitter during the summer, especially when you’re trying to work. At the point when I had three kids under the age of 4, the only way I made it through the day was having Barney, Elmo, and Mickey help me out. However, as kids get older, they are better able to entertain themselves without having to stare at a screen all day. One of the ways I accomplished this last summer was to have a “no tv before lunch” rule. It worked well and everything knew what to expect. Then after lunch, everyone takes turns picking a show in age order, so there aren’t any fights.
You can also have the kids earn tv or free screen time with good behavior, chores, or a positive attitude. I don’t tend to have my kids earn their screen time, as I often use it as a way to keep them occupied when I have work that I’m behind on. However, the first thing to go when I get attitude from the 11 year old or the 4 year old tries jumping on the couch is their tv privileges.
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Practice School Skills
Another big issue at the beginning of a new school year, other than the forgetting of math facts and how to write in complete sentences, is basic school skills. Like getting up early, eating your meals in about 20 minutes, using your walking feet, having indoor voices, sitting still at your desk, etc.
It’s a great idea to have some of these be rules all the time at home, while others are good to start practicing about two weeks before school starts. Indoor voices and walking in the house are two rules that apply to my kids no matter where they are. If you’re inside (expect in a gym) you’re expected to walk and use a quiet voice. We live in a small ranch house, and if I can hear you across the house with my headphones on, you’re way too loud! My kids also love to take lots of time at meals, which normally is fine and is actually encouraged in a lot of other countries. However, meal time at most American schools is between 15-30 minutes. Also, my kids like to sleep in until 8 or even 9 some days. So we spend the two weeks before school starts practicing eating meals with a timer, so we don’t get hungry from running out of time at lunch. They also start getting up earlier and going to bed a little earlier too.
What About Reading?
Reading is, in my opinion, the most important thing to prevent summer slide. So important in fact, that I’m writing a whole separate post on how to encourage summer reading! Make sure to bookmark WooJr.com and check back for that post coming soon!
I hope this helped give you all some good ideas for preventing summer slide!