Photo Credit: Mikhail Nilov via Pexels

How to Stop the ‘Summer Slide’ in Its Tracks

Summer is on the horizon and that means long days and late nights. Unfortunately, for many children, it also means heading down the “summer slide,” a term used by teachers across the country to describe a reduction in academic abilities during the summer months. Don’t let your child go back to school this fall further back than they were in May. Here are a few great ways you can help struggling students stay afloat.

Get to Know Your Child

Even if you and your children are as close as can be, there are many things about them that you may not realize, one of which is their learning style. While you may learn best by reading or through social interactions, your child might retain more information using his tactile senses or through music and sound. There are seven learning styles, and Learning-Styles-Online reports these as visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary. Determining which way your student learns best can help you formulate a plan to help them do better in school this coming fall and for the entire 180 days that follow.

Although reading may not be your child’s top learning style, it is an important practice to encourage. One of your most valuable educational tools is your local library. Reading just 20 minutes each day is proven to give children an academic edge. If your children are younger than first grade, read with them. Older children, meanwhile, should be able to handle books, magazines, or interesting online articles on their own. If your child is not particularly interested in reading, a quick visit to the library may encourage them otherwise.

Imagination Soup points out there are plenty of free summer reading programs (Oceans of Possibilities) to keep kids engaged, too. And libraries like Dillon Public Library offer a summer reading program to stop the summer slide as well as other educational programs that make reading and learning fun for your kids. And if the internet or computer access is hard at your home, public libraries are a great place to access free technology.

Log on for Fun

More than just reading, there are other activities that can help your child retain – and expand – their academic knowledge over the summer. Kids who are technologically inclined may enjoy spending a few hours each week on one of the many fun and educational websites that cater specifically to budding minds. National Geographic Kids, Starfall, and Fun Brains are three excellent learning websites recommended by VeryWell Family. Another great option is Prodigy, an online math game formatted like an adventure quest where students earn special skills for completing math equations. The site automatically gauges the child’s abilities and adjusts the complexity of the problems to their current and emerging math skills.

Fine Tune Efforts

Something to consider is whether or not your child could use some special help with a challenging subject. With younger kids, this might mean a little coaching from mom and dad, along with math flashcards or fun workbooks.

With older kids, sometimes similar strategies work, but oftentimes the subjects go beyond a parent’s comfort zone. If, for example, your son or daughter is struggling to understand calculus, summer is a good time to ramp up efforts in that area; but not all of us have calculus in our skills repertoire. With a little research you can hire a calculus tutor to meet your child’s needs. Whatever the subject, there are tools and tutors available to help your youngster get over the learning hurdle this summer.

Get Active

One of the best parts about summer is being outside. And, fortunately, there are almost endless ways to continue learning through outdoor play. One is to plant a garden, which can help your child grasp complicated scientific concepts, such as photosynthesis. The Dillon Public Library has a free seed library for your planting needs. You might also plan to spend an afternoon walking local creek beds or lakeshores hunting for crinoid fossils or making observations on animal behavior. The Dillon Public Library has a free backpack program with local maps and trails and free passes to Glacier National Park.

Summer camps can also be a great way to get kids outside and connected to learning in a fun way over the summer. But if you’re more comfortable keeping your kids home while learning through these camps, there are virtual options, too. The Mint Foundation offers teacher-led instructional summer camps for kids, focusing on S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) subjects. Camp is conducted virtually, and kids receive a weekly education plus a snack pack.

Summer can be difficult for parents, especially those who work. Even during these hectic times, it’s important to carve out quality time with your kids. But remember, you don’t need to go on a prolonged or expensive vacation. Invite your kids to help with everyday activities, like folding laundry or gardening, or create new activities you can all do together. Maybe you build a birdhouse or everyone learns how to repair a broken fence. The important thing is being together, and creating an experience.

Stop the summer slide and encourage a love of learning even in the off-season. It starts by getting to know your child’s learning abilities and obstacles and then finding creative – and fun – ways to challenge their mind. Come August, your child and their teachers will thank you.

Image via Pixabay

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