Summer break is a sacred time for many, especially school aged children. A well deserved break from the day to day routine and rigor of the classroom is generally full of indulgences, rest and relaxation. With freedom comes responsibility—or a complete lack thereof. Beware of the dreaded summer slide.
The summer slide is a concept researchers have been studying since the mid 1990s. Data has since shown that kids are prone to lose significant amounts of acquired knowledge in both reading and math over summer break. Primary students are at a higher risk due to the stage of development, but older students may find themselves in danger of falling behind as well.
So how can the summer slide be prevented? Are there ways to support and foster children without overwhelming them during a typically carefree season?
Work toward the goal of embracing the three “I’s.”
Find fun ways to “investigate” new things with your child. Get out of the house and find novelty subjects to learn more about. An added strategy, make a connection with a book, film, or theme your child enjoys. Maybe that favorite book about leopards could spark up a conversation that ends with a trip to the zoo! Enthusiasm is contagious and the more excited a child is about a subject the greater the opportunity to promote learning! When children learn from real world experiences they not only make strong connections but they become inspired to dig deeper. Look for fun places to visit locally. Plan a day out exploring a local farm, landmark, or historical location. The learning possibilities are endless!
Summer is the perfect time to relax, recharge, and read! Simply put, books are the most powerful tool to occupy, engage, and keep your child learning all summer long. Investigate a new topic, use inquiry based questions and projects to extend it, imagine and create something new related to the book. Provide lots of opportunities for choice, this will empower and foster confidence within your child while allowing them to be independent. Build around what your child loves and new knowledge will flourish. Visit a local library and make it a point to sign your child up for a card of their own. Host a breakfast book club and talk about which books from the library are “fan favorites.”
Inquiry based learning is one of the most beneficial strategies within education, especially in content areas like science. A simple way to foster curiosity and sharpen inquiry skills is to create project based learning experiences throughout the summer that disguise themselves! Creating a project with your child is even more beneficial when you give children the ability to choose the project. Choice is a powerful tool! Finding a project that your child is generally interested in enables ample opportunities for questions and conversations. Some of the most productive and teachable moments stem from “inquiry” based conversations. Take the time to shift your focus to an “inquiry” based approach and reap the benefits. Whether you’re conducting a science experiment or studying bugs in the backyard, when children ask questions they are engaged and learning.
Lastly, when children “imagine” and create while learning, they are expanding their vocabularies without even realizing it. Art projects, gardening, and trendy toys like blocks and Legos all provide great opportunities to imagine, create, and develop new skills. Children build off of previous experiences, giving them the freedom to express themselves while relying on a familiar skill set is the perfect way to expand and foster existing strengths. Visit an art gallery, learn a new hobby, catch a theater show and then reenact it at home!
This summer enjoy some time with your child while tapping into new ways to learn that keep them guessing what’s coming next! Slide into success while on summer break—there will be lots of fun along the way!