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Avoiding the Summer Slide

How to Combat Learning Issues When School is Not in Session

By Jordan Wright & Amber Robinson

The “summer slide” is a natural occurrence with all students, as their lives shift from near-constant active learning during the school year to much more leisure, family, and friend time in the summer.

Kids, as well as parents, need a break from school work at times. But it’s important for their minds to keep working in order to retain the information they learned this school year. Teachers always build in four to six weeks, or more, of review into a school year to help students with the summer slide.

Before discussing strategies to reduce the summer slide, let’s first be clear: Kids need their summer vacation! You don’t need to be thinking about putting your kids in full-time school programs over the summer to combat the summer slide. Kids need to be kids. They need to learn how to socialize with new sets of peers (like at a camp or other summer activities), and regulate their emotions and behaviors. Camps and other leisure activities are great for all of these things!

But to help students retain information they worked hard to master, here are a few family summer activities that can help combat the summer slide:

  • Co-reading aloud: Take turns reading aloud to each other
  • Family reading challenges: Set goals for the entire family for daily reading
  • Literacy games: Find games that use flashcards or otherwise require some reading skill
  • Library trips: Take trips to find books that interest each specific kid
  • Mad Libs: Use storytelling games like Mad Libs to keep kids working on their literacy skills
  • Engaging friends: Find school friends and create book clubs they can engage in together
  • Encouraging a summer journal: Take 15 minutes at the end of each day to “recap” what happened in a journal
  • Getting crafty: Craft projects that have multi-step directions strengthen both reading comprehension and executive functioning skills, like organization and planning
  • Using apps: There are reading and literacy apps that look much more like schoolwork, but reserve these for truly enthusiastic kids

For other subjects and general learning, here are some additional activities:

  • Math games: Finding games where math plays a part
  • Real-world math: Find ways of “quizzing” kids on math in the real world, like using money and change while shopping or baking
  • Educational television shows and podcasts: Whenever you can watch or listen to something together, discuss the learning to promote more active engagement.
  • Visit educational spaces like museums or art galleries, whenever possible
  • Discuss new learning: Perhaps the most important strategy is for families to discuss any new learning that occurred throughout the day.

The goal is to keep the academic part of kids’ brains active during the summer. Yes, they need rest and relaxation, and yes they need time to play and just be kids. But keeping their brains sharp during the summer can reduce summer slide. In the end, don’t worry! Most kids come back to school and, even if they have some summer slide, they make it up quickly and get back on track. Teachers are experts at making sure this happens!

About the Authors:

Dr. A. Jordan Wright is the Chief Clinical Officer, Parallel Learning. He is board certified in assessment and clinical psychology and specializes in psychological testing and assessment.

Amber Robinson is the Executive Director of Colearn Academy Arizona. Her passion for education, student learning, and family engagement drives her philosophy in education, which centers around individualizing education for all students.



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