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10 Tips To Keep Your Kids Off The Summer Slide
Don’t let the fun sounding name summer slide fool you! It’s not the newest attraction at the water park. Summer slide is a very real phenomenon that happens when young minds sit idle for weeks and months during summer break. Any skills that were gained over the course of the school year are quickly lost without some kind of engagement, causing students to be behind when the new school year begins. Summer slide happens in all subjects, but its effects are more pronounced in math and reading. Follow these 10 tips to stop the slide in its tracks.
1. ENROLL KIDS IN A
Quality is key. You don’t want your children in a program that’s just killing time. They should be engaged in a variety of mental and physical activities. The program doesn’t have to be all math and reading to be effective. Look for art or theater camps or other programs that interest your children. Check with your local school system or parks and recreation department.
2. TALK TO THEIR TEACHERS
If you have no idea where to start, talk to your children’s teachers. Most teachers will be happy to suggest activities you can do at home that are related to the coursework that was done over the school year. They can also recommend websites to browse and workbooks to buy. My daughter’s kindergarten teacher is putting together a packet of worksheets that covers the skills she taught. I’m planning on setting aside 20 minutes a day to work with her on the packet.
3. VISIT THE DOLLAR STORE
The dollar store is the perfect place to look for basic materials because everything is cheap. Most dollar stores have a stationery section where you might find school supplies and workbooks for young children. Pictured above are some of the activity books and workbooks I bought from the dollar store for my daughters. If there are no workbooks, buy paper, poster boards, markers, crayons, etc. and have your child create something every day. You can also check out teacher supply stores for more specialized material and activities for older children, but beware—they tend to be pricey.
4. ENCOURAGE EXPLORATION
Use the slowness of summer to your advantage. This is the perfect time of year to encourage your kids to explore the world around them. Lay on a blanket, stare at the night sky, and talk about the constellations. Take a walk and make a game of pointing out obscure things. Encourage them to ask questions about everything and find the answers together when you don’t know them. The idea here is to keep your kids thinking critically and creatively.
5. VISIT MUSEUMS AND ZOOS
You probably already do this anyway, but try to visit less popular attractions. You’ll beat the crowds and you may find exhibits or animals that you won’t find at larger facilities. Check out your local historical society, too. If you’re a native of your area, you probably don’t think too much about learning the local history. You’d be surprised what you and your kids will learn when you act like tourists in your own town.
6. COOK TOGETHER
Cooking and baking involve math, reading, following directions, critical thinking, and decision making. Have each child plan a menu for the day based on what they like to eat or what they would most like to try their hands at cooking. You may end up with a few messes and disastrous meals, but it will be a learning experience for your kids and provide great memories as they get older.
7. CREATE A GAME
Do you want your children to develop their leadership and teamwork abilities, creativity, and determination? Creating a game does all this and more. Whether it’s a board game, a sport, or an app, a lot of brain power goes into developing an original game.
8. START A FAMILY BLOG
Doing a blog is like keeping a journal; it’s just online for all the world to see. Friends and family can keep up with the goings-on in your household and your kids get to build up their reading and writing skills. One good idea might be to have each family member take turns posting something. It doesn’t need to be lengthy or structured: it could be a favorite recipe one day, an uploaded drawing another day.
9. PLAY CARD GAMES
When you want kids to keep their math skills fresh, play card games like Concentration or Math Card War. You can buy flash cards, if you like, but a deck of playing cards can serve multiple purposes.
Reading is arguably the single most important activity a child can engage in to resist learning loss. Reading for school is usually highly structured and not always interesting to kids. Summer reading should be relaxed and combined with other fun activities. Here are a few strategies to encourage summer reading:
- If you’re going to the aquarium, for example, encourage your children to read a book about sea animals. Headed to a baseball game? Have your children read about a famous player.
- Use your local library. Let your children choose the books they really want to read. Get them enrolled in a summer reading program.
- Reading doesn’t have to be with a book only. Have plenty of magazines, newspapers, and other reading material around the house.
- Make sure you’re reading yourself and that your children see you reading.
- Read aloud to one another and/or read a book together and discuss it.
- Read books on which summer movies are based. For example, Percy Jackson Sea of Monsters will be released this August. Start reading the book now, check out the movie later, and discuss whether the movie lived up to the book.
What are you doing to keep your kids sharp all summer? Share your ideas below.
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Alexis Trass Walker lives in Gary, Indiana, with her husband and four children. She is a stay at home mom and writer who loves all things chocolate. Read more about Alexis on her blog lilliebelle.org, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @LillieBelle5.