5 Tips to Prevent the Summer Slide: A Guide for Parents From Teachers

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You’ve probably heard the term summer slide before, but what exactly is the summer slide? And how do you prevent the summer slide?

Educators- Here are our best tips that you can share with parents and caregivers about simple, inexpensive summer slide prevention activities that they can do this summer. (That’s right, they don’t need an expensive summer camp to prevent summer learning loss!)

Tips to Prevent Summer Slide

Why is it important to prevent the summer slide? 

The summer slide, or summer learning loss, is when students regress academically during the summer months. Sometimes students lose some of the academic achievements they made during the school year, since they aren’t continuously learning.

Think of it like that Spanish class you took in high school. The moment you stopped being exposed to the language, you lost the ability to use it. This is similar to what happens with summer learning loss.

We don’t want students to slip backwards, so we need to keep them learning throughout the summer. This helps by –

👉 Keeping their brains active and flexing. They are less likely to lose skills that they are continuously using.

👉 Maintaining structure. For some students, switching between school and summer is a rough transition (heck, this is rough for parents and educators, too). By keeping learning alive in the summer, you can maintain some of the school structure and ease this transition.

👉 Facilitating focus and engagement. Let’s be real – movies and TV are definitely more exciting than a math lesson. But if we want kids to focus in school, we have to help them practice that focus during the summer as well.

👉 Preparing students for next year. Not only will the transition back to school be easier if students continue to learn throughout the summer, but they will experience less stress and anxiety when reentering the classroom. They won’t struggle as much to adjust to the new year.

Summer Slide Prevention Activities for Families

We want to give you some specific actions you can take to keep children learning during the summer. All of these activities are simple and cost little to no money!

Activity #1: Read

We bet you knew this one was coming! Our number one recommendation is reading. Honestly, the more reading the better.

Summer reading ideas

Re-read the books you have at home, or to expand the options, take a trip to your local library. You can even reach out to another family for a book swap! Here are some of our suggestions to make reading more fun!

💡 Make a summer reading challenge! This can be the number of books or a fun challenge like reading about a new topic, picking books by a new author, or reading books with only a certain colored cover!

💡 Read different types of texts. Children can read magazines, directions, graphic novels, and more. Of course, traditional books are great, but let your child explore different texts too!

💡 Have a child that loathes reading? That’s alright. Treat reading like vegetables: sneak them in. When in the car, play a sign reading game. When at a restaurant, ask them to read part of the menu. And so on.

Activity #2: Explore the Town

You don’t have to go far to find new adventures and places to learn. Take your kiddos to a museum (some even have free admission days), go to a park, or visit a local monument or historic landmark. You can even find virtual field trips online for those rainy days (or scalding hot summers).

Summer learning ideas

Here are some ideas for summer slide prevention for your around-the-town adventures:

💡 Vocabulary: When you are traveling about, look for new words your child might not know. These words might be on signs, plaques, pamphlets, and more.

💡 Math: Math is really easy to add into any trip, even one to the grocery store! Have your child count items like flowers in the park, count the change from your store purchases, look at graphs at a museum, and much more.

💡 Science: Incorporating science is often about stimulating curiosity. Ask your child questions to get their brain thinking. For example, why do you think the oil won’t mix with the water? Why do you think your pool toy sinks? Why is that bird puffing its feathers? Don’t worry, you don’t need to know the answers! You can search it, and read the answer with your child.

Activity #3: Engage in Meaningful Conversations

Sometimes preventing summer learning loss is as simple as stimulating a child’s mind through conversation. This is especially important if they have spent time in front of a screen or playing alone. You want to find ways to engage them and get them talking!

Summer conversation ideas

Here are some ways you can engage in meaningful conversations:

💡 Ask about their day. Avoid the “how was your day” question that often ends with one word responses. Instead, ask “What was fun about today?” “What was the best part of the day?” “What is something that made you laugh today?”

💡 Create some plans together. If you have a day or afternoon off from work, chat about an activity you can do together. Ask your child if they have any ideas. Or, give them a few ideas and have them research more about these activities with you.

Activity #4: Play Games

Preventing summer learning loss doesn’t have to be boring. Playing board games and card games are a great way to keep up academic skills.

Summer learning games

Here are some ways you can use games to prevent learning loss:

💡 Use games like Headbanz, dominos, and UNO that require kids to practice their skills like inferencing, strategizing, describing and counting without even knowing it. You can find lots of board games that use basic math like Monopoly or Hi Ho! Cherry-O. You can also have them read cards for the game out loud to practice reading.

💡 Use task cards, like these Topic Sentence Task Cards, to play a game. For instance, you can play Jenga where they answer a question after pulling a block. Or you can put the cards in a container, and draw random ones. Have the entire family answer the questions.

💡 Have your child complete an academic task before taking a turn on a game. You can do this with basic math facts, vocabulary words, science trivia, and more. After they answer the question, they can take a turn in the game.

Activity #5: Writing

This is a super simple one, but having your child write during the summer is an excellent way to prevent learning loss. Writing can be a challenge for kids, so have them practice in a fun, casual way.

Summer writing ideas

Here are some summer writing activities:

💡 Keep a journal. Give your child a journal prompt daily to complete. These can be really fun and silly, such as, “If you turned into an animal, what animal would you be?”

💡 Write letters. Get your kids to participate in old fashioned snail mail. They can write letters to friends, family, or even their teacher next year. 

💡 Write down information for you! Need to make a grocery list, to-do list, or remember a favorite recipe? Orally tell your child what you need to be written down, and have them create the list or recipe for you!

We know that summer is a fun and relaxing time to spend with your family. Our hope is that you see adding learning into summer doesn’t have to take away from family time. In fact, we believe it can enhance the experiences you have.

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