Summer means relaxation, fun and hanging out with friends…at least, that what it means to school-aged children. For parents, it means more work and an additional responsibility: Making sure you children avoid the dreaded “summer slide,” in which kids show a decline in overall academic ability over summer vacation.
Some experts suggesting that kids spend at least 2-3 hours every week learning over the summer. Thankfully, there are no shortage of ways that an engaged parent can keep their kids from losing academic progress during the summer months. Here are four ways to do just that.
1) Read to them
If your kids are young enough, or willing to sit and listen, read to them. Studies show that reading to kids has an array of benefits that go beyond merely helping to improve their literacy: It can also improve social behavior and cut down on undesirable actions like hyperactivity and inattentiveness. Reading to kids on a regular basis over the summer can help to keep their reading and comprehension skills sharp. It also helps to teach them that learning isn’t something which is only done in school, but can and should be done year round, over the course of a lifetime. Furthermore, libraries present parents with a great (and free, and air conditioned!) chance to open their kids eyes to a whole new world of books and learning. Many libraries also offer summer games and programs designed to keep kids reading, so make sure to check out if yours does.
2) Vacation appropriately
Vacations, of course, can be a blast and are great for recreational opportunities and getting in some much needed relaxation and new experiences. But don’t act as if vacations are learning-free zones. Instead, incorporate trips to educational facilities, like historical sights, museums and other institutions of learning.
3) Teach them something new
Remember, “learning” doesn’t have to be defined as things which kids learn within the walls of a school. Part of keeping a child’s mind sharp means teaching them new skills and giving their minds a chance to grow and create. To that end, take the summer months to try and learn more about your child and give them a chance to learn more about themselves. What’s something which they would love to learn how to do? What sort of new skills are they looking to acquire? Once you figure that out, see what resources are available. For example, if your child wants to learn to sew, what skills are you capable of teaching them? Do you have a fellow parent who knows how to teach this skill to your kid, and can you trade lessons with them? Alternatively, you can always check out YouTube or other skill-teaching social networks and see what resources exist. Doing all of this will give your child the chance to flex their intellectual muscles and potentially develop a brand new passion which can last them a lifetime.
4) Set aside a specific time for learning
Kids love and crave routine. Try to set a specific time aside, every day, for Daddy or Mommy school. If your goal is to hit 2-3 hours a week, try to to set aside 20-30 minutes. Keep the time as regular as possible, and approach it like any other teacher would. Make lesson plans, and give assignments. Rotate each class that you teach – Mondays for Math, Tuesdays for learning Spanish, etc. Most importantly, be present. This isn’t a time for you to plop your kids in front of the television and turn on YouTube, but a chance for them to actively learn, and for you to actively teach them.
Remember, the summer months don’t have to result in an academic backslide. The most important thing, more than anything else, is that you be an engaged parent, and take the time to teach your kids. You won’t regret it, and neither will they.