Did you know that during those summer months, children can lose up to three months of academic progress? This is referred to as the “summer slide.”
This has been a trend that seems to continue and has for over 100 years, according to many sources. It is what happens when the skills that our children have learned during the school year is lost or simply forgotten because of not practicing over the summer months.
They can easily fall behind and when school starts back up, they are behind their classmates and behind where they ended the previous year. I remind my own children, DAILY, that if they read and do their writing and math every day in the summer, they will go UP instead of sliding DOWN.
Our summer schedule looks like this:
Wake up, eat, etc…
20 minutes of math
20 minutes reading
20 minutes writing
PLAY (pool, swings, etc…)
Each of our kids does this schedule of an hour a day of learning, from our youngest to our oldest child. It isn’t much time, so they don’t complain much. I also make sure to give them a “When we are done we are going to ____.” to encourage them to keep it up. We will go swimming, boating, on the lake, to a park, to play a board game, or something just as fun when we are done with our work.
I prepare their work the night before (takes about ten minutes) and we all work in different rooms downstairs. I alternate which child is reading, so I can be there to listen to all of them. Our oldest kids read silently, so I don’t need to listen to them.
Summertime is the perfect time to really watch your child. It is a great time to figure out what areas your child may be struggling in and even where he or she needs help. It was during the summer that I found that Beau needed glasses.
The (AOA) recently released a new, evidenced-based pediatric guideline that also agrees that school-aged children should see their doctor of optometry for a comprehensive eye exam yearly, with the first occurring before first grade. It really ensures success in their summer activities, as well as during the school year. It is really important for eye health. Even our youngest child has had an eye exam (children between 3-5 should have at least one eye exam.) According to the American Optometric Association’s 2015 Eye-Q Survey®, 74 percent of parents of school-aged children with contacts/glasses reported that their child’s vision problem was identified during a routine exam.
The thing that I like to remember and remind my client’s parents (I am a play therapist and was a former teacher) is that a child’s brain learns how to use the eyes to see, in the same way, that we use our mouth to form words. If a child’s vision problem goes undiagnosed or untreated for too long, the brain learns to adapt to the vision problem. This can create obstacles, making it much harder for a child to reach their full potential.
Did you know that when a child tilts his/her head while reading, this is an indicator that something may be wrong with their vision? Or if they cover one eye while reading? What about sports? Like consistently hitting the rim, but never getting the ball in while playing basketball? Or always swinging late during baseball? These are indicators of needing vision correction, due to the lack in visual skills needed for sports, like depth perception and hand-eye coordination.
I just make the appointment for the summer and we have it done right away, so I can ensure that our few months of learning at home are the most effective that they can be.
Here are a few things that we do to avoid the summer slide:
Reading. Read for 20 minutes a day. Just run to the library every Monday and let each child pick out a few books.
Plant flowers. Talk about how flowers grow and why it’s important.
Plant a garden and use the vegetables in your meals.
Write in a daily journal. I just buy 4 notebooks and our kids write about what they did the day before or what they want to do today.
Have them write a ‘book report’. I also use the journal to have our kids write a paragraph about what they read that day. I use their age to tell them how many sentences I want them to have.
Take local trips: zoos, museums, bike paths…
New word week. When I taught, I would write out a word that was new and not commonly used and I would hang it on our door. I like to do this with our kids, but I hang it on the refrigerator.
Join the library program. Most libraries have free reading programs where they offer prizes or rewards for doing their work.
Play games! Board games are a great way to learn about counting, patterns and more.
Look at the local college or schools for summer reading programs.
Listen to books on tape at night. Our kids listen to a book (or a chapter of a book) every night when they are lying in bed.). You can get them from the library or download audiobooks on your phone.
Go on a nature hunt. Find leaves, nuts, etc… and then research them when you come inside.
Cook. Baking is a great way to learn. You are using math, science, and reading.
An experiment a day! Look online for Easy Science Experiments for Kids and pick one to do every day.
Summertime is a great time to talk to your kids about why you do their annual checkups (physical, dental, comprehensive, vision). Use this as a science lesson and talk about what their doctor will be looking for when they go for each of these appointments.
The important thing is that you are working with your kids every day, encouraging them to learn. You’ll be teaching your kids and bonding with them at the same time. Think of it like learning to play basketball. If you didn’t play for two months, would you be as good as someone that was practicing daily? Reading, writing, math, and science are no different. Daily practice makes us better.