As your children create their bucket lists to fill those lazy days of summer, be sure to include some activities to help avoid the dreaded “summer slide.” This term refers to the loss of academic skills over the summer.In fact, studies have shown that approximately two months of reading skills and two and a half months of math skills are lost or forgotten over the summer. Many teachers see a decline in reading levels when students return to school in the fall. Don’t panic. Just two to three hours a week (25 minutes a day) can help prevent the summer slide. By incorporating fun and easy learning activities, you can help nurture children’s mind and accelerate their learning making them well prepared for the next grade level.
Reading: “You can find magic wherever you look. Sit back and relax. All you need is a book.”- Dr. Suess. Help your children find this magic in books by directing them to the perfect series. Kids tend to read more when they are invested in great series books, longing to know what adventures await for the main character. Scholastic.com allows you to view series books by grade and interest. Make a list to take to your local library. Public libraries, Barnes and Noble, Scholastic and many schools offer summer reading incentives to keep your child motivated all summer long.
It is important that children read their “just right” book so they do not get frustrated when reading aloud or independently. The “five finger rule” can help! Open to a page in the middle of a book. Hold up one finger for any word that is too difficult to read. If you have five fingers up, that book is too hard. Four fingers is a challenge. Two or three fingers means you have found the “just right” book! Remember to read daily with your child. Try sitting beside them and alternating who reads aloud. Modeling appropriate fluency, thinking aloud and making predictions about the text will help your child mimic these good reading behaviors. Keep in mind, reading is more than simply decoding text. “Book talks” increase comprehension. Ask questions before, during and after reading to get your child to think more deeply about the book. ReadingRockets.org is filled with parent resources including reading tips and sample questions to increase comprehension while reading.
Writing: Turn your summer adventures into a book! Buy a blank notebook to turn into a summer journal. Divide each page horizontally to leave space for a picture and written text. Use real photos or illustrations and encourage your child to write about the picture. Journaling should be fun and engaging. If your child struggles with writing words, help them decode the sounds, encourage phonetic spelling or provide a word bank on a post it that they can use to write their memories. Before writing, remind your child to capitalize the first letter in a sentence and any names. Review when to use a period, question mark and exclamation point. By the end of the summer, your child will have a complete memory book of their summer.
Write for a purpose: Involve your child in authentic writing activities. Include them as you write the grocery list. Create cards for birthdays. Organize and label the toys. Jot down your favorite recipe. Write a postcard or letter and mail to a family member who lives out of town. These small moments rooted in literacy can help prevent that summer slump.
Math: Most kids would be reluctant to sit down and complete math worksheets over the summer. You can incorporate math in everyday activities without making it seem like a chore. Involve your child in cooking. Ask them to help measure, add and keep track of time. Lemonade stands are great ways to practice counting money, making change, adding, multiplying and dividing. Keep a log of the number of sales and divide earnings among siblings. Practice graphing skills by tracking the temperature for the week and comparing it to a foreign country or favorite city. Many board games such as Monopoly, Scrabble, Yahtzee and traditional card games include math skills and strategies. Highlight the math you use daily as you plan trips, distances, travel times or expenses. Take note of the stats of your favorite baseball player. Finally, free online math games, such as Factmaster.com and abcya.com, can help increase math fact fluency.
Science and Social Studies: Summer is the perfect time to explore the world around us. Go on a “five senses nature walk.” Bring a clipboard to draw or write about what you see, smell, taste, feel and hear. Plant a garden using a variety of seeds and plant types. Observe and draw the life cycle of a plant. Feeling adventurous? Try some outdoor science experiments such as baking soda rockets or cook s’mores in a homemade solar oven using foil and a pizza box. Help your child get to know the history and geography of our state. Explore local and national parks in our area. Track your travels on a printable map. Create rivers, lakes, streams, mountains and peninsulas using sand and water at the beach discussing the differences between them all. Reading a nonfiction book or article each week is one of the simplest ways to learn more about science and social studies during the summer.
Make reading, writing and learning a part of your summer routine as you prevent the summer slide and keep kids’ brains charged all summer long.