By: Rebecca Michelsen, M.Ed., MCHES, Penfield Children’s Center

No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!

While school is out for summer it is still important to keep children’s minds engaged and learning so they are ready for the next school year and can avoid the “summer slide.” In fact, studies show that:

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.
  • On average, students lose approximately 2 months per year in mathematical computation skills during the summer months. Low-income students also lose approximately 2 months per year in reading skills during the summer months.
  • Children lose more than academic knowledge over the summer. Most children—particularly children at high risk of obesity—gain weight more rapidly when they are out of school during summer break.
  • Teachers typically spend between 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
  • It only takes about 2 to 3 hours of learning per week during the summer to prevent learning loss.

Fun things you can do to promote learning over the summer:

  1. Look into your school district’s summer school program. Summer school programs are no longer about students trying to catch up on skills that weren’t mastered during the school year. Most summer school programs now offer different enrichment opportunities that allow kids to explore interests outside of the traditional subjects of reading and math while still encouraging them to learn and use these skills throughout the summer months.
  2. Read: Participate in your local library’s summer reading program. Most libraries have programs that encourage children to read for a certain amount of time per day. Once they complete the challenge they can usually turn their reading log in for a prize.
  3. Explore your community: Visit places like the library, museum (public, art or science) or the zoo. This is a great way to squeeze in some learning about art, science, math or history while having some fun.
  4. Follow their lead: If your child is into sports, use the score or player statistics to teach about math. If your child loves to play in the sand, work some math and science concepts in about size differences, measuring, and making hypotheses about what would happen if you tried different ways of building a sand castle.
  5. Work in some physical activity: Plan hikes, bike rides, build an obstacle course in your backyard or take trips to the park where they can run, jump and climb.
  6. Teach healthy eating habits: Visit a farmer’s market to learn about local fresh produce and consider trying something new. You can get ideas for tasty and nutritious meals at Let’s Move! and MyPlate. There is also information available about the USDA Summer Food Program, which was established to ensure that low-income children can receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
  7. Encourage kids to think outside of the box with arts and crafts. You can find a lot of great ideas on the internet.

What activities do your kids participate in to avoid the summer slide?


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