The Loop: 17 Ways to Help Avoid Summer Learning Loss

Stop the “Summer Slide” with easy and engaging learning activities for your kids.
Stop the “Summer Slide” with easy and engaging learning activities for your kids. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Though the term “Summer Slide” sounds fun and innocuous, it actually refers to learning loss. Learning loss is inevitable when young, developing minds are idle for 3 months. Reading skills and levels are particularly impacted with research indicating that kids who do not read over the summer can lose up to three months of reading achievement. In addition, this learning loss is cumulative over the years, which is a daunting obstacle to overcome as children get older.

It’s expected that anytime you stop practicing a skill for several months, there will be some catching up when you pick up the skill again. Reading every day is vital to combating “Summer Slide”, but there are also other innovative and interactive methods parents can apply to keep summer fun while stimulating young minds at the same time:

1 - Read Something Every Day. This is the #1 rule and parents should lead by example and read too. Whether it’s a magazine, the newspaper, a comic book or novel, encourage children to read at least 30 minutes every day. Keeping a basket of books in the car is a great way to steal some reading time.

2 - Read at Least 6 Books this Summer. Create your own home reading program with an incentive for completing 6 reading level appropriate books. If you don’t know your child’s reading level, consult their teacher. Parents know best what will motivate their own children. Challenge your child to come up with a name, theme and logo. It can be as simple or as complicated as you’d like, with your own time frame and rules. Just make sure to follow through and encourage your young readers.

3 - Read Aloud with Your Child. It seems counter intuitive to read aloud with your child when they learn to read on their own. But reading aloud with your child presents many benefits, especially as they get older. Consider a family book club where you and your child take turns reading aloud to each other from a mutually selected book.

4 - Read the book and then watch the movie. Many books have been adapted for the big screen, it’s tempting for all ages to skip the book and fast forward to the movie. For early readers on to YA Fiction, incent and reward your child with a book movie party after they’ve read the book first. Then, hold a critic’s review and discuss the differences and similarities, likes and dislikes.

5 - Book swap with friends. Get together with friends and have informal book swaps where kids can borrow books from each other. No matter what librarian, parent, teacher or website recommends, peers can be the best source of good reads.

6 -Cook with Your Children. Reading recipes, measuring, and preparing can develop comprehension, math, and motor skills. In addition, children who engage in meal prep are more likely to eat different foods.

7 - Trips to Museums and Zoos. Museums are great resources for learning and most of the time, kids aren’t even aware they’re learning. Be sure to take your time and allow kids to read all of the great signs and graphics set up at each exhibit.

8 - Keep a Journal. A great way to keep writing skills polished over the summer is to have kids keep a daily journal. Jotting down just a couple of sentences a day can help keep up sentence structures, penmanship, and vocabulary.

9 - Listen to Audiobooks. A long car trip is the perfect opportunity to listen to an Audiobook. The Library has a huge selection of Audiobooks to choose from. Also, on hot summer days, staying inside and listening to an audiobook for a few hours can be a perfect, relaxing, mid-day activity.

10 -Regular Game Nights. Games can make kids into better students. In addition to being fun, they can teach valuable math, reasoning, executive functioning, teamwork, and sportsmanship skills.

11 - Join the Summer Reading Program at the Library. Summer library reading programs began in the late 1800s as a way to encourage non-working school children to read during summer vacation. Today, library reading programs are the public’s most popular choice for summer reading programs. Commit to visit the library once a week during the summer and let your child take their time browsing and selecting books. It’s free, air-conditioned, and the books are always changing, you’ll be surprised at what you’ll find.

12 - Incorporate geography. Print out a map of the world and ask your child to pin countries and states where the characters in the books live or visit. This can be a fun way to initiate interest in different locations around the world. Also, readers may gain satisfaction in keeping track of all the different cities they have virtually traveled to through their reading.

13 - Give Kids Access to Books. Even if you have a large selection of books in your home library, visit the Library regularly. The inventory at the Library changes by the hour and it’s guaranteed that kids will find something new to read every visit. Also, book ownership is important in establishing an appreciation for books.

14 - Give Kids a Choice in Selecting Books. Allow them to choose what they want to read. Even if it’s 100 graphic novels, giving kids a choice will capture their attention and interest longer.

15 - Keep Up with the Math Facts. There’s many way to keep up with math facts and many of them require no more than a few minutes of investment at a time and best of all, flashcards aren’t required. Quiz facts while waiting for meals, riding in cars, taking walks, or riding bikes. Just a few minutes a day can keep the dust off.

16 - Set Aside Time Every day. Most people want to avoid routines in the summer, but sticking to a time every day for reading will help develop expectations and good habits during the usually unscheduled summer months.

17 - Set Goals and Celebrate. Reading shouldn’t be a chore, and the habits that young readers develop now can benefit them into adulthood. Have a discussion at the beginning of summer and set realistic goals. Be sure to reward and celebrate accomplishments along the way and at the end of summer.