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9 Ways Parents Can Help Kids Overcome the Summer Slide

Summer Slide; Two happy children reading books on the floor at the school library

For most children, summer is one of the most anticipated times of the year. No more school days taking up precious time they could be playing. However, for parents and educators, summer can sometimes bring anxiety. A lot of learning can be lost during those months out of the classroom. Some refer to this learning loss as the “summer slide” due to the downward trajectory reading ability and other academic skills take over the course of the summer. The NWEA points out that more research needs to be done to better understand it, but there are some ways parents can help kids overcome the summer slide:

1. Read Something Every Day

Daily reading is probably the most important and most obvious way to avoid the summer slide. Kids should read at least 20 minutes every day. This time can vary based on skill level and age, but that’s the generally agreed upon minimum. Also, with younger and beginning readers, even if they can read certain books by themselves, reading aloud daily is also important.

Mixing up the reading material you use can help ward off boredom. Picture books, magazines, and chapter books are all great options based on reading level and age.

2. Journal or Find Fun Writing Exercises

Writing even a few sentences every day can help keep writing skills sharp. Encouraging kids to keep a journal is one way to get them to meet that goal. They can write about how they are feeling, what they have been doing, what they are excited about–pretty much whatever they want. To get them started, you can use fun prompts and other exercises that will engage their creativity while also maintaining the skills they learned during the school year.

3. Take “Field Trips”

Use summer as an opportunity to play tourist in your own city. When possible, explore museums, zoos, and gardens. Try to sneak in learning opportunities where the kids do not necessarily realize they are learning. One of our favorites is the Children’s Museum of Alamance County which features a variety of themed hands-on exhibits that help encourage learning through play. Be sure to check out the event calendar on their website.

4. Set Goals and Celebrate When They are Reached

The summer reading list is a classic standby for keeping kids engaged in academic endeavors throughout the vacation period. And they also prepare them for the upcoming year. But if you want to expand your child’s goals beyond the assigned list (or if your child is not old enough or just is not assigned one), setting smaller periodic goals is a good move.

Make sure you set somewhat challenging but realistic goals. That way kids have to work to meet them and they can feel proud when they do. Then, when that goal is met, celebrate in some small way. Whether that’s with a special meal, treat, sticker, or a favorite activity, recognizing their effort is important.

5. Get Involved at the Local Library

This summer, the Alamance County Public Libraries is hosting a summer reading program for both children and adults. This year’s theme is A Universe of Stories. Take advantage of the many other wonderful programs that they offer such as:

  • Books and Stories to Go: Themed bags that you can borrow each containing 10 books to teach children about a specific topic.
  • ZOOM Passes: Passes to area attractions including the North Carolina Zoo, NC Transportation Museum, Durham Museum of Life and Science and more, can be reserved through the library website on a first-come, first served basis.
  • Educational Kits: Educational Resource Kits are developed by Alamance County Public Libraries staff in theme-related boxes that make learning fun. Boxes may contain books, DVDs, activity sheets, lesson plans, toys and other props designed to engage young children and encourage them to explore new things. There are currently more than 20 themes to choose from like All About Bugs, Dinosaurs, Picasso’s Art Box and Jungle in a Box.
  • Crafts & Activities: The library also hosts a variety of monthly crafts and activities for different age groups including a LEGO® Club, AniMebane Club and Science Explorers.

6. Cook Together

Aside from giving you quality time with your kids preparing healthy meals, cooking with them will help them avoid the summer slide in several ways. They will use reading skills to read recipes, math skills for measuring, and motor skills when preparing food. It will also help them learn more about healthy eating habits.

7. Don’t Forget the Math

Though we’ve focused a lot on incorporating reading and writing, it’s also important to incorporate math when working to overcome the summer slide. You don’t have to sit down and have a formal math lesson but look for creative ways to incorporate counting and simple problem-solving. This can be a family game night with Monopoly or Yahtzee, taking them along on your next grocery shopping trip and having them track your total along the way, or keeping a sudoku puzzle book in your car for long car rides.

8. Incorporate Other Media into the Reading Process

Reading an actual book is the obvious goal here, but finding ways to bring the story to life can make reading more interesting. If kids are more engaged in the story and the world it takes place in, then they will probably be more motivated to repeat the process with other books. Mixing up how material is consumed is a good way to keep a child interested in what’s going on. Here are some ideas to journey beyond the page:

  • After you and your children finish a book that has a film adaptation, watch the movie!. It can be fun to see what they have been imagining come to life on the screen. Then after you watch the movie, you can chat about what was different from what they pictured, and differences in the plots of the book and the film.
  • Throw geography into the mix. Print out a map of the world and as you read throughout the summer, kids can put pins where they have “traveled” via reading.
  • Listen to audiobooks. Longer car rides are great opportunities to listen to audiobooks. Libraries have large selections of audiobooks. This can also be a relaxing cool-down activity on a hot afternoon. It will help with listening skills while entertaining.

9. Stick to a Routine

With school out, it can be easy for kids to look at summer as a time when they are free from schedules and routine. However, even when they struggle against it, a routine is one of the best things for child development. A basic routine should be followed even in the summer. That’s not to say that things need to be strictly regimented, but following a loose schedule can help your kids know what to expect and ensure they are still getting a balance of reading, writing, math, and other academic skills.

About Kernodle Pediatrics

At Kernodle Pediatrics, we care about every aspect of your child’s wellbeing including their physical, mental and emotional health. Our goal is to serve as not only your child’s medical home, but as a resource you can turn to for guidance and advice on a variety of topics. If you have questions or concerns about your child’s health you can call (336) 538-2416 for our office in Elon or (919) 563-2500 for our office in Mebane.

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