Keep your kids out of the summer rut! Learn how summer break impacts students’ academic performance in the fall and what can be done to prevent the academic summer slide.
As summer vacation approaches, kids are gearing up for the season with little regard for the academics they will leave behind when the backpacks are hung up for the year. On the other hand, parents and teachers often worry about the loss of important skills throughout the summer months, which must be retaught once school rings in again. For parents intent on avoiding the academic summer slide, there are a number of ways to keep kids’ brains in the game, even as they are looking forward to their break from the classroom.
Keep Them Reading
Studies have shown that kids can lose up to 25 percent of their reading skills over the summer months, which can have a significant impact on their ability to get back into the school swing in the fall. A report at mLive shows that income disparity widens the reading gap over the summer even more. Children in low-income households consistently lose more than two months of reading ability each summer, while children in middle to upper-income homes may remain steady or actually gain skills during vacation.
Scholastic Books cites research that shows reading just six books over the summer months can go far in keeping students on track when they return to the classroom. One way to ensure your kids keep reading all summer long is to schedule regular trips to the library. Many have summer reading programs that encourage participants to read a certain number of books before the summer season is over.
In addition, Scholastic offers additional ideas to incorporate reading into the regular summer routine:
- Find something to read every day. Encourage kids to read the comics in the newspaper every morning, or online resources while playing on the computer.
- Find things your kids want to read. Ask the librarian at your local library for recommendations based on your child’s age, reading level or interests. Peruse book lists at the Scholastic website or from your child’s school. Kids who like what they are reading are sure to read more.
- Read out loud. Ask your child to read a paragraph from his current book to you at night, or read to him before bed. Children of all ages – including teens – can benefit from hearing books read aloud to them, especially children who are currently struggling with their own reading skills.
Hang On to Math Facts
Math is another subject that tends to get lost in the summer shuffle. The Texas Instruments website cites research from the National Association for Summer Learning, which shows that students lose approximately two months of math skills in the summer if they don’t participate in some sort of educational activities over their break. Research also shows that losses in math tend to be even higher than those in reading, forcing math teachers to spend a significant amount of time at the beginning of the year on review, rather than new subjects.
Fortunately, there are many options for students who want to retain their math skills over the summer months. Texas Instruments is a great resource which offer a number of ways for students to hone their math skills while playing fun games and participating in activities. In addition, Texas Instruments offer the following tips for parents to incorporate math learning into summer activities:
- Encourage students to take math or science-related jobs that will help them refine their academic abilities while learning important job skills.
- Look for summer camps that utilize skills learned in math, such as robotics or space camps.
- Encourage a student to tutor others in math subjects he has already mastered.
- Help struggling students find remedial summer work they can do to improve their own skills.
- Find ways to add math to daily activities, such as calculating the volume of water in the city pool.
- Let teens get in on the trip-planning action, by setting a budget, calculating fuel needs or figuring the distance between destinations.
“Summer learning should not be separate from summer fun,” Holly Larrson, a math subject matter specialist from Texas Instruments stated on the website. “Activities can be enjoyable while still adding educational value to a teenager’s summer.”
Keeping the Mind Sharp During the Summer Months
Colorado Education offers additional tips to help students continue to exercise their thinking muscle, the brain, throughout the summer months. Ideas from former teacher and current LearningRx staff member Heather Lovell include:
Research places you will be visiting over the summer.
From discovering silly laws to exploring the geography and culture of the area, this activity encourages students to read and learn while getting them excited about upcoming trips.
Set aside time to work on academic skills every day.
Give your family one-half hour every day to read, work math problems or indulge in fun activities like brain teasers or crossword puzzles. If the whole family gets involved, the children may not mind the thinking part of the activity quite as much.
Collect books or games for children to enjoy in the car.
Instead of playing on electronic devices, entice kids on road trips with Mad-Libs, comic books and games specifically designed for the road. Use time in the car to talk with your kids as well, or play old-fashioned games like the license plate game as a family.
In addition to these tips, Lovell recommends limiting time in front of video games and television, even during the summer months. Give them alternative activities that inspire the imagination, and your children’s minds are sure to grow throughout summer vacation time!
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