As summer vacation begins for most schools in the United States, kids are excited about the long days of playing with friends, going to camps and taking family vacations. Summer vacation is time for having fun and relaxing after a long school year. But as parents, we need to remember to keep our kids' brains active to prevent the so-called "summer slide," that loss of lessons learned, the slip backwards in reading and other academic areas that occurs for many children during the long summer break. How can you do this? Read on for some ideas.
Here are 10 Tips to Prevent the Summer Slide:
- Read every day. Most teachers require kids to read for 10 to 30 minutes every day during the school year. Don't let your kids get out of this reading habit during the summer. Encourage them to continue to read every day. And for those who have required summer reading lists, make sure they find time to read books they WANT to read as well, so reading doesn't become a dreaded chore. Keep them reading and keep them happy!
- Sign up for a reading challenge. Book stores, libraries and various online resources, including Scholastic.com, host reading challenges during the summer where kids are encouraged to track their reading ~ either the minutes read or the actual books read ~ throughout the summer. Some even provide rewards such as free books to participants, which can give kids the extra motivation they need to read.
- Read aloud to your kids ~ or at least let them see you reading. Spend time reading aloud to your kids. This can expose them to more complex stories that they aren't yet able to read themselves. It introduces new vocabulary and different types of literature. If your kids aren't interested in listening to you read aloud, make time to sit together and read silently to yourselves so they can see the enjoyment you get from reading.
- Start a journal or diary. To keep their writing skills going throughout the summer, encourage your kids to write in a journal or diary about their summer activities. If you go to the zoo, suggest they write about it. If your child is more creative, have them make up their own stories, or work with them to create a scrapbook in which they write and choose pictures to include. Find ways to make writing fun.
- Play games as a family. Board games, card games and yard games all offer kids an opportunity to think, build strategies, and even hone their math or reading skills. Scrabble helps with spelling. Monopoly helps with math. Uno helps with developing strategies, as well as color and number recognition for younger kids. Games offer a great way for the family to come together while discreetly learning too.
- Take a trip to a museum. Visiting museums is a great activity for the whole family. Many museums are now set up with hands-on activities for kids, and engaging programs that you can attend. Kids can learn about art, animals, science, history and many other topics, depending on which museums you choose. Give your kids the power to choose one that interests them.
- Track the weather. How many sunny days will you have this summer? How many rainy days? When will humidity be the highest? Make some predictions and then track the weather to see if you're right. Kids can build their observation skills, and learn about weather, graphing, patterns and predictions by tracking the weather throughout the summer.
- Explore nature. Science lessons don't have to stop just because school is out. Kids can discover all sorts of things about animals, plants and the earth in your own backyard. Get outside and flip a rock to discover what's living underneath. Observe the types of birds that live in your yard. Plant a garden or some flowers and have the kids take care of them. There are many science lessons to learn outside.
- Stay healthy. Keep the physical education and health lessons going this summer. Get your kids outside every day to ride bikes, go swimming, play sports or just take a walk. Keep them moving and staying active. And spend time this summer learning about healthy foods. Visit the local farmers' market, and try some new fresh vegetables and fruits that are native to your area. Talk to your kids about healthy eating.
- Plan a vacation. Most families take some sort of summer vacation, whether it's for one night or an entire month. Get the kids involved in planning this year. Show them your vacation budget, and talk about the cost of gas or airline tickets. Have them map the route you'll take, and calculate time and distance. Involve them in planning your itinerary. Let them pack their own things based on the number of days and nights you'll be away. There are many lessons to learn in planning a vacation.