The two months of summer break is plenty of time to worry about the dreaded “summer slide” – the lull in academic learning that causes kids to lose the skills they learned in class and start the next school year behind. Even though I think summer is a time for hours and hours of free play outdoors, I still want to make sure that we keep up on our reading and math skills this summer!
Our partners at KinderCare know learning doesn’t stop when school lets out for the summer. They want to help you make sure your child starts the new school year ready to learn. Read on for tips on how you can mix learning and fun this summer!
Tips from KinderCare experts that will help parents combine learning and fun this summer and help their children avoid the summer slide:
Read and learn as a family.
- Research from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education: reading and writing as a family and encouraging kids to read on their own has a bigger impact on preventing summer slide than any other activity.
- Find books, poems, or even museum display cards that correlate to places you see or visit during the summer.
- Take turns reading a chapter book with an older child or start a new series to read together.
Go to your local library.
- The Collaborative Summer Library Program found that children who visited the library were less likely to suffer summer learning loss
- Your local library may have a summer reading program that can help provide ideas or motivation, or simply let kids loose in the stacks to find books that interest them.
Don’t forget math.
- Over the summer, math skills often fall by the wayside, according to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
- Experts recommend getting creative to prevent math learning loss.
- Ask children to help add prices in the grocery store or assist in measuring and counting while cooking together in the kitchen.
- Math can also be part of outdoor play: Children of all ages can count objects they find outside like the number of trees in the neighborhood or the number of rocks collected on a nature walk.
- If it’s too hot to go outside, count and sort items like blocks or toys by shape, size, and color indoors.
Plan your vacation around educational activities.
- Find time in your family vacation for enriching educational activities like exploring museums, visiting cultural and historical sites and exposing your children to the arts.
- The Collaborative Summer Library Program’s summer slide research shows that children who have access to extracurricular activities are not as likely to forget what they learned over the summer.
Get up, get out, and get moving!
- One of the healthiest uses of summer time is free and available to all: nature.
- According to research by North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative, kids who spend more time playing outside are better creative problem solvers and have improved focus and cognitive skills.
- Outdoor play can be adventurous, like hiking, or it can be simple like a backyard scavenger hunt for certain leaves, flowers, or bugs.
Put reasonable limits on snacking.
- In the summer, eating routines get interrupted by unstructured meal times and access to more snacks and sweets.
- Research from the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Oxford demonstrated a link between summer vacation and increases in obesity.
- To encourage good habits, consider spending time gardening or cooking healthy meals as a family.
Resist the urge to let screens do the work.
- The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that parents balance the need for media literacy with reasonable limits on screen time.
- For children over the age of 2, one hour of screen time is enough. For children under 18 months, screen time should be discouraged. Between 18-24 months, high-quality educational media is appropriate when supervised by parents.
- KinderCare has tips for helping children be smart and safe digital users.
Encourage social and emotional development.
- Researchers from the University of Chicago and Northwestern University have found that students lose around 7% of their progress in social interpersonal skills for each month they are out of school, likely caused by children spending less time around their peers.
- Scheduling play dates or enrolling children in summer programs can help offset the backslide by helping children build friendships, increase self-confidence, and model independence.
For 50 years, KinderCare teachers have been creating safe, encouraging environments where kids can learn, grow and build confidence for life. At KinderCare, hardworking families are family—regardless of needs, backgrounds, and experiences. KinderCare Learning Centers is opening a new center in Southaven, MS on June 24th!
Learn more about how you can prevent summer slide through fun, educational summer activities and programs in your area at KinderCare.com.