Most of us around the country are heading into the final week or two of school for our kids. While many of us look forward to summer break as a time for playing, summer vacations, and pool time, the lack of structure can also be a bit challenging. Most of you have probably heard of the “summer slide” in academics. Children tend to lose a bit of what they have learned over the summer unless we as parents do things to help them keep their minds active.
Until I researched this topic, I had no idea the summer slide could be so dramatic. One report stated that,
“It is estimated that school summer breaks will cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being disproportionately affected. Researchers conclude that two-thirds of the 9th grade reading achievement gap can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities during the elementary school years, with nearly one-third of the gap present when children begin school.”
Of course one of the best ways to prevent summer slide is reading…and a lot of it. Most public libraries have free summer reading programs for kids of all ages, with some really fun activities to go along with it. Some libraries even have “reading buddies” programs in which an older child (6th grade or above) listens to a younger child (K-3rd grade) read and reads along with them. Personally, my son loves this program. I think it makes the younger kids feel “grown up” to have an older friend.
Here are a few great book lists if you need some help finding books appropriate for your kids’ age level:
- Summer Booklist by age (from Imagination Soup)
I think it’s also important for kids to be as physically active during the summer as possible. If you are a stay-at-home parent (like I am) then you know there are a lot of hours to fill during those long summer days. I have found that allowing the kids to be outside and active as much as possible keeps things fun and their moods in good spirits. Besides parks and pools here are a few ideas for fun, somewhat educational activities that allow for a lot of movement:
- water balloon toss or water balloon piñata
- baking soda and vinegar volcanoes
- backyard scavenger hunt
- sack races
- build a homemade fort or teepee (outside or inside)
- try out camping in a tent (can be done inside too)
While the days are mostly unstructured, you can build a little structure into your time so as to allow for outside time, reading time, and rest/quiet time.
If you are like me, summer was when some of my best childhood memories were made. Let’s keep our kids active and have a fun summer full of good memories.
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