Trying to Prevent Summer Slide: Ways to Continue Learning Over the Summer

Summer is always a welcome time of relaxation in our home.  We tend to stay low-key.  We enjoy our annual trip to the beach, day trips, and long lazy summer days.  Yet there is a very real phenomenon that occurs over the summer – the “summer slide.”  Summer slide occurs when children who have been learning and exercising their brains for nine months of the year suddenly hit summer and little to no learning occurs at all.  This slide is evidenced at the beginning of the next school year when children return to school and are reading up to two levels below where they left off at the end of the previous school year.  So, even among the relaxation, we find time to learn.

A few ways we continue learning over the summer:

  • This year, to ensure that we read every day, I’ve instituted family DEAR time after lunch each day.  The kids love it so far, and because it’s consistent, they know to expect it.  And since it’s family DEAR time, I am being the appropriate model and reading right along with them.  We’ve started at 15 minutes during our first week of vacation.  We’ll move by five minute increments each week until we are at 30 minutes a day.  That is my hope anyway.

  • We try to go to the library once a week.  Prior to going we pick a theme to learn more about – usually related to something we are doing that week or just did the week before.   By using a familiar activity as our anchor, choosing books related to that activity helps children to build background knowledge or aids in comprehension of topic.  This is a great way to learn more about science or history related topics as well.
  • We created a Summer 2011 Reading Challenge.  We’ve set monthly reading goals and sight word goals and we work to achieve those goals daily.  At the end of each month we will graph our totals (which ties in math).
  • I want my son to continue writing over the summer, but have found that prescribed journal type entries do not motivate him.  Even if they are related to our summer activities.  This year, he will continue to add to his Writer’s Notebook – jot down ideas, thoughts etc. that come to mind that he may be able to use as part of a writing piece later.
  • Write original pieces.  We have an IlluStory Make Your Own Story Kit set and so each of my children can write a book about their summer vacation, illustrate it, and bind it.
  • We will throw in some math games as well.  Nothing formal related to math, but basic facts bingo, domino and dice games, etc.  I’d like my son to practice his multiplication and division facts and games are a lot more fun and motivating than flash cards.

What are some ways you keep your kids learning over the summer?  Do you have a set plan, or do you play it by ear?

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