How to Avoid the Summer Slide

Spring has arrived which means summer will soon be at our doorstep! As the end of the school year approaches and visions of vacation dance in our heads, there are two words that loom large and unwelcome amidst our summer daydreams: summer slide. Routine is key to a well-rounded education and development for our little ones, and months without that routine can take a toll. When students do not have an academic schedule, performance, retention, and the skills they’ve developed can slip. 

What is the summer slide?

The summer slide describes the circumstance in which children lose knowledge in reading and math during the summer months, which results in continued loss throughout the ensuing years. This is most evident in the early years of learning – typically from kindergarten through third grade – as children are still developing and building the fundamental skills necessary for higher education. 

But while the summer slide is a phenomenon that seems to begin in kindergarten, that doesn’t mean parents of our littlest learners should be complacent. Comprehension begins to build as soon as children develop language, and language grows with regular interaction. Promoting healthy reading habits from birth shapes not only a love of reading, but a strong educational foundation!

How can students avoid the summer slide?

It bears repeating: routine is key. Studies show that it takes just 2 to 3 hours per week to prevent summer learning loss. That still leaves plenty of time for little ones to enjoy their break, go to camps, spend time with friends, and bask in the sunshine. Scheduling academic activities among summer fun helps children keep up with the skills they’ve learned in school. Incorporating workbooks, independent or shared reading, and even meaningful conversations is all it takes. The start of the school year often focuses on review (which is still important!), as opposed to introducing new ideas and skills. When students have education woven into their summer, they can advance more quickly in new areas and also retain confidence which is extremely important for maintaining joy in learning.

What are some activities for parents to include in daily learning?

The most important activity, as always, is to read. It sounds simple – and it is! Just by incorporating time for stories and imaginative thinking into your child’s daily routine, you are helping them to build an abundance of skills. Reading helps with vocabulary expansion, critical thinking, making predictions and thinking ahead. It also builds imagination and develops deeper empathy. Some fun ways to take summer reading to the next level include:

  • Form a book club with your little one and their friends. Let them pick the book, add some comprehension activities, and read a new chapter with them weekly. This can also work with our youngest readers! Gather with other parents at the park to enjoy tummy-time and stories together.
  • Choose from a new genre. If your child has never opened a graphic novel, encourage them to try! Listen to audiobooks before bed. Flip through a new chapter book together. Make sure to ask questions along the way to both gauge their interest and build their comprehension.
  • Make it a challenge. Ask if they want to try to read 25 books this summer. Then 50. Then 100. Challenge them and encourage them every step of the way until the routine of reading is intrinsic to each and every day. You can have fun summer reading charts and prizes to add extra excitement and summer fun!

And as you’re reading, find fun ways to involve writing too. Writing is a difficult skill, which can sometimes make it difficult for children to enjoy as they are gaining their writing confidence. But there are plenty of ways to make writing something that your child looks forward to.

  • Begin a journal with them. Let them decorate the cover however they’d like. Give different prompts each day for them to follow. Make sure it’s always at the same time of day, so they start to look forward to those moments and build a routine.
  • Write a story together. Pick different characters, settings, and plot points out of a basket and build a world from nothing. This will not only involve your child in the act of writing, but also build their imagination and ability to fully craft a story.
  • Write a letter to a family member you haven’t seen in a while!
  • Use different writing utensils! Go outside and write on the sidewalk with chalk. Write on glass with expo markers or window paint. The possibilities are endless!

Though the summer slide can feel daunting, it is no match for the excitement and possibility that summer learning can bring.

Happy reading!

Click HERE to dive deeper into ways to avoid the summer slide.

Scroll to Top