As the House Stark would say if he was not always wearing fur, and on an island somewhere – Summer is coming! Summer as a child means pool time, sunshine, vacations, sleeping in and staying up late. As parents, we look forward to the fun too, albeit with the balance of work and other parental responsibilities, but we also want to ensure that the “summer slide” doesn’t occur. Summer slide is known by parents and teachers alike to be the regression of learning. How do we, as parents, help prevent the summer slide? We consulted with our teaching expert, Meg Flanagan.
What activities would you recommend to engage students throughout the summer?
For all students, take the focus off of traditional academics (workbooks, flashcards, etc.) and shift to hands-on activities, like experiments, scavenger hunts, reading together, acting, etc. By inviting your child to engage their brain in ways outside of the norm, you create space for new connections to form!
- Consider summer camps with an academic or arts focus, like acting camp, science camp, etc.
- Get outside! Take walks, talk about nature, look for birds and animal tracks.
- Free play, without screens, is essential for growth and development. It allows children to develop meaningful real world connections and navigate social situations.
- Read, allow your child to self-select books based on their interest levels. Engage with your child during/after reading to help them subtly work on reading comprehension skills.
DWhat books would you suggest for middle schoolers?
Really, everything should be based on your child’s interests and desire to read. If all they want is magazines, so be it! Follow where your child needs, within reason. Check out some of our favorites here.
What suggestions do you have to keep high schoolers learning and having fun?
Take a true break every so often. Enjoy time off to go to the beach, a theme park, or whatever.
- Work a summer job that allows them a good balance of fun, learning, and earning potential. Ideas include: camp counselor, babysitting, tutor, lifeguard, ice cream or snack bar.
- Take time now to look at the next academic year or future plans. Work with parents/friends to locate study resources, books, and other supports.
- Train for fall athletics. Work with a trainer, nutritionist, or use exercise plans found online to maximize your months “off” so that your high schooler can be their best self when fall season starts.
How can we make meal time a learning experience?
During meal time, talk about your day. Search for offbeat answers to typical “how was your day” type questions: funniest moment, moment you wanted to burst into song, goofiest expression, funny thing the teacher said, grossest food item, etc. Meal prep and cook together. Talk about the ingredient you’re using, read the recipe, measure and pour. This works on reading, math, logic and fine motor. Talk about the “real world” – in a child-friendly way, of course.
Is there really a way to integrate learning into vacations?
Read books along the way! Maybe try to theme them to match where you are going!
- Research the history and culture of your vacation destination.
- Listen to regional music
- Write a journal or create a scrapbook together
- Do vacation math: calculate miles traveled, gas cost, distance between locations, hours traveling, etc.
What tips do you have for parents who are working but wanting to stay active and helpful in the learning process through the summer?
Make time on weekends or after work to connect with your child and engage in non-traditional, hands-on products – visit museums together and read together. Consider enrolling your child in camps or programs that value hands-on learning activities as opposed to tech- or screen-based activities. Try to find programs that focus on an interest, include outdoor time, or a focus on learning or the arts.
Consider spring break a trial run for having active learners home all day, and arm yourself with knowledge from a teacher, parent and educational expert Meg Flanagan.
Want more information? Meg shared some great links with more in-depth information for your perusal:
- 11 Easy Ideas for Summer Reading Fun
- Fun Reads for Younger Readers
- Non-Fiction Books to Read for Fun
- Graphic Novels for Reluctant Readers
- 5 Ways to Keep Your Kids Reading
- Make Reading Fun with a Books to Movies Marathon
- 50 Easy Ways to Make Summer Learning Fun
- Easy Summer Math Activities and Resources for Kids
- 21 Science Experiments for Summer Learning Fun
- Learn at the Beach
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out this article on 4 Reasons for Summer Camp
Photo credits: Marisa McDonald Photography