Beware the summer slide—not the spiraling, thrilling water chute found at your local water park, but the loss of academic skills during the summer months. Math skills often slip the farthest, with students losing an average of 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in computational ability over the summer. In addition, students score lower on standardized tests administered at the end of the summer than at the beginning. How do you prevent these skills from slip-sliding away? While parents may not be able to halt all summer learning loss, there are many ways to reduce it.
- Set aside time for reading, and consider forming a summer book club with your child.
- Engage your child in fun writing projects, such as keeping a journal about his or her summer vacation or writing letters to family, friends, or a pen pal.
- Seek out enrichment programs in your community. Check with museums, colleges, and universities for offerings.
- Emphasize math skills by helping your child manage his or her own budget, practice fractions through cooking activities, or discover how math plays a role in a favorite sport (i.e., baseball batting averages).
The key is not to let the summer become a holiday from constructive learning but to view it as an extended learning season—a time to explore special interests in depth, develop new hobbies, have fun, and perhaps even take an exhilarating plunge down a state-of-the-art waterslide!
—Kristen R. Stephens, PhD