Keep Your Kids Sharp Over the Summer

New school supplies, new clothes, new teachers, new friends… There is a lot that’s new and exciting about the first day of school. 

But what’s not exciting? Dusting the cobwebs off the knowledge and skills from the month of May. 

Adults can all remember the frustration of recalling last year’s educational skills. While it’s important for a class to all be on the same level before moving forward with new concepts, there’s a better way than forgetting educational skills. 

The Summer Slide

When school’s out, everyone breathes a sigh of relief and wants to veg out. This is understandable, and everyone (parents, too!) deserves a break. 

But very quickly–and quicker than parents realize–children begin to lose the educational skills they’ve worked so hard to build throughout the school year.

It’s estimated that children lose over one month of learning during the summer vacation months! On average over the summer, children:

  • Lose 2.6 months of math skills
  • Lose 2 months of reading skills
  • Spend 6 weeks re-learning old material in the fall to make up for summer learning loss

While a short break is beneficial, the long months of doing little besides video games, play time, and vacations can actually be detrimental to your child’s education. 

Avoiding the Summer Slide

Imagine your child walking into their first day of school feeling confident about remembering all the educational knowledge from last year. It’s easier than you may think!

Doing just a little educational work every day can prevent the summer slide and give your child a head start on their upcoming school year. Here are some fun and practical ways to accomplish this.

Join the Library’s Summer Reading Program

Joining your library’s summer reading program is one of the most practical ways to prevent the summer slide. Almost every library system has a summer reading program to keep kids learning, complete with weekly (or sometimes daily!) prizes, grand prize winners, fun activities, and more!

While sometimes picking any book of interest is necessary to keep your child interested in reading and educational subjects, your job as the parent is to guide your child toward choosing educational topics. 

These requirements don’t have to be extensive and rigid. But in general, it’s best for your child to keep reading a broad range of educational topics, including math, science, history, and fiction. Covering these subjects should be easily accomplished in a week. For instance, reading one book from each subject a week is manageable for most families.

Take your child’s interests and preferences into consideration as you choose books. Perhaps they love bugs, LEGOs (which are excellent for math skills), or a certain time period in history. Choose books that interest them!

It makes things easier on you if you can find a series or author whom your child particularly enjoys. Your librarian can also give invaluable advice on selecting books or helping your child stay motivated with reading.

Remember that your child doesn’t have to physically read every book (unless they need to work on their reading skills!). Many children love to be read to and can listen for much longer than adults realize. Reading age-appropriate educational books or novels to your children while they color or build LEGOs primes the pump for deeper learning.

Enjoy Nature

Let your child soak up nature, get their energy out, and learn educational concepts all at the same time! Parks are wonderful ways for children to enjoy the outdoors but try to plan times to get away from manmade play structures. Even in cities, there are accessible parks and nature preserves where your child can appreciate the beauty of nature.

Plan to walk a nature trail, take a hike, or visit a creek or river. You can make each visit new and exciting by:

  • Take along a plant, bug, or bird field guide and identify what you see. 
  • Create or print a scavenger hunt list
  • Using packing tape, wrap a strip around your child’s wrist so the sticky part faces out. Have your child stick flowers to their wristband for their very own nature wristband.
  • Bring along a child’s camera so they can take their own photos
  • If your child likes to draw, bring a sketchbook and pencils
  • Collect special rocks, nuts, sticks, and fossils. 

Plan a Trip to a Museum or Zoo

Many cities have excellent art, history, or science museums. Zoos and aquariums are another excellent choice for a fun, educational outing. You can often get a discounted price when going with a group, so round up a group of friends and have your own field trip!

While at the museum, zoo, or aquarium, have your child make notes of things they find interesting. Then use your library’s app to find books that relate to these subjects and keep the learning going!

Math is Everywhere

Humans use math all day, every day, whether we realize it or not! Math is not just addition and subtraction; it’s shapes, patterns, measurements, dimensions, and much more. 

The more you can point out math in everyday life, the more motivated your child will be to learn these concepts. 

For young children, books, playing with LEGOs or blocks, and discussing shapes and patterns is sufficient to retain math concepts. But for older children, you can download a math app that makes math fun for summer.

Have a Plan… and Stick With It!

Remember, you’re the parent and you set the rules! Carefully consider reasonable educational goals for the summer, set up a tantalizing reward system, and stick with the requirements you set forth.

Many parents choose to have children get their educational subjects accomplished before allowing access to technology. This is an excellent way for children to stay motivated. Additionally, it can be wise to set a time limit on how many video games or apps children play so they naturally find other things to do.

Write out your plan and print off a daily checklist. Just like everything else in parenting, consistency is key! If you and your child stay accountable to the summer plan–giving rewards and removing privileges as necessary–then your child will be more than ready for their next grade level.

Summer at Children’s Academy

At Children’s Academy, we have a daily routine that reviews learned educational concepts and introduces new ones! Our teachers love to read books with and to their students to maximize learning. When you enroll your child in Children’s Academy over the summer, you can rest assured that your child is getting all their summer education and preparing for the next school year.