Do your kids seem a little less ready for school after each summer break? If the answer is yes, don’t worry. They’re far from alone. It’s a common experience known as the “summer learning slide.” Research shows that kids typically lose the equivalent of a month’s worth of learning over the summer break – and it gets worse the older they get!
So, what can parents do to give the slide the slip? Here are seven fun activities that have worked for our teenage son, and I bet they’ll help your kids, too.
Read A Fiction and A Non-Fiction Book Every Other Week
Since our son learned to read, we’ve had him read one fiction and one non-fiction book every other week to keep his reading and comprehension skills at grade level. It’s summer after all, so instead of assigning him books like he’s used to from school, we let him choose what to read.
Keep A Vacation Journal
We take at least one big family vacation trip every summer, and since our son was very young we’ve had him keep a daily journal where he writes about what we did that day. It’s been a great way to keep his writing skills up-to-date and document his childhood.
Email Family and Friends
To strengthen our son’s writing skills, we also have him email family and friends, especially those people we don’t get to see that much during the year. Teenagers prefer texting, but we insist that he emails them because texts are usually full of broken sentences, odd grammar, and spelling mistakes.
Play Math-Based Board Games
In the evening, whether we’re on a family vacation trip or at home, we play math games like Monopoly or spelling games like Scrabble. The key is to focus on the fun part – the competition – rather than the learning. If you do that, the learning will happen automatically.
Watch Feature and Documentary Movies
Aside from playing a board game or two, we also watch movies in the evening. With all the streaming services available, it’s not that hard to find a documentary or feature film, which also happens to be educational. Movies are some of the most fun ways to learn about other time periods, cultures, and current events.
Download Educational Apps
Although we try to make our son’s summer activities as social as possible, we also indulge his interest in anything technological, like letting him download all the educational apps he wants. He really likes quiz apps, which like the board game Trivial Pursuit, is great for developing kids’ general knowledge. Visit Arts, History, and Natural Science
Museum visits are another great way to keep your kids up-to-date with the arts, history, and natural science. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a big or a small city. Even the smallest town often has a museum nearby. Going to the local town museum and learning about your own history can be surprisingly fun.
Tanni Haas, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Department of Communication Arts, Sciences, and Disorders at the City University of New York – Brooklyn College.