The dreaded “Summer Slide”. Have you heard of it? There are multiple studies citing this learning loss that can occur for kids during the summer months. With the past school year we’ve just been through, and all the interruptions and changes to learning, that concern of “falling behind” has become even more immediate. But we also know as parents and teachers that our kids have been through A LOT and deserve a break. So how do we balance between the two? Research shows that practicing reading, writing and numeracy skills just 2-3 hours a week goes a long way in preventing the so-called summer slide. Here are some recommendations from Teachers on Call for how to maintain and engage in learning this summer, in order to make sure your kids are ready for the next school year.
Literacy is an essential skill at any age. And thinking of it as a skill, like playing an instrument or a sport, it needs constant practice to be able to maintain and grow in it. But we also know that kids make much more progress in reading when they enjoy what they are reading. Here are some ways to encourage the practice and the enjoyment of reading.
Set Reading Goals
As adults we know that goal setting is an important way to stay motivated- whether you plan to run a half marathon, or learn a new song on the guitar. So why not apply it to reading? Goals can be specific, like reading 50 books by the end of the summer, or something general, like to read for 15 minutes each day. Perhaps the goal is to read all the books in the series or to read something in a new genre? Your local library probably already has a great summer reading program in place with rewards, and many libraries have reading challenges you can participate in no matter your age or time of year.
You can also find some great free printables to help track your reading.
Try this Reading Bingo printable designed by one of our Teachers on Call Tutors!
Any Reading Counts!
Multiple educational studies show that students read more when they are reading something they care about. If your kid isn’t interested in traditional fiction, try non-fiction, graphic novels, or comic books. Some kids are also much more comfortable as auditory learners, and in that case, give podcasts or audiobooks a try. Even video games (depending on the game) involve reading. The key is to read regularly, and try to talk about what you’ve read- either through just a daily conversation, or having your kid keep a reading journal. Most of all, make the practice of reading something that isn’t just a habit, but a source of enjoyment.
Writing is like a muscle. You have to keep exercising that muscle to maintain your progress. There are many ways to keep up with writing during the summer months, at any age.
Keeping a summer journal is a great way to encourage daily writing. Encourage kids to write about what they did during the day, goals they have, and things they learned.
While we’re still limited in our movements, plan a virtual dream trip! Research tourist attractions, find places on Google Maps, and write a travel journal imagining where you’ve been. Kids can even compose their own virtual experience in something like Google Slides or Adobe Spark, and they can travel virtually with their friends on Zoom or with family members. Check out this sample virtual trip made by one of our tutors, using simple YouTube videos!
Track Your Passions
Whether your child is into sports, drawing, video games, music or something else- they can keep track of their daily activities. They can use math and literacy here, and the writing doesn’t have to be really detailed- it’s just part of the daily routine and has a personal purpose to it.
Learn a brand new skill
As a family or individually, try to come up with something new to learn. It could be a new sport, a game like chess, a new hobby like cake decorating, film making- make it a project. Research it, watch some YouTube videos together, and then have your child write about their progress and future goals!
Math or numeracy is another one of those essential subjects. And because of a lot of our preconceptions around math it can seem harder to make it “fun”. This is especially true in the summer months. But numeracy practice isn’t just worksheets and flashcards; it can be embedded into many fun activities.
Cooking and Baking
Talk about measurement, fractions, adding and subtracting as you bake and cook together. How can math not be fun when you make it practical and get to literally taste the product
Everyday Mental Math Challenges
Do mental math review as you go for a walk or a drive. Calculate how many apartments are in an apartment building using multiplication. Estimate how far you have walked and keep a chart adding up the distance over a week or a month. Time bike rides and calculate personal bests. Practice some financial literacy talking about family expenses or something your child wants to save up for. Embedding math in these little ways not only keeps the skills strong, but also shows your child why math is so important- it’s in everything we do!
Gaming and Coding
Did you know that coding is now a part of the elementary curriculum? So, if your kids love video games not only can direct them to ones that engage numeracy skills (like Minecraft), but they can also put their numeracy skills to the test creating their own games! Kids of all ages (even high school) can learn by using one multiple free coding programs to try out their skills. It will engage math and literacy skills and allow them to invest in what they’re doing.
Does this feel insurmountable in this time of COVID and lockdowns, and working from home? Hiring a tutor for once or twice a week for reading or math practice during the summer can be a great help this summer. Think of it like weekly music or soccer practice! Contact Teachers on Call to talk about some ways we can help!
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