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School’s Out: Expert Offers Advice for Parents to Avoid The ‘Summer Slide’ for Kids

While summer is a time for fun in the sun, we often hear of parents expressing their concern about the “summer slide.” It’s when the loss of learning opportunities during the break lead to regression in reading and math. Some studies suggest up to a month of learning is lost over the summer, but according to Tonya Price, a 4-H youth development extension specialist with Virginia Cooperative Extension, there are many things that can be done to keep children learning and engaged while out of the classroom.

As schools are out and summer approaches, using tools like a random letter generator can be a fun way to keep your kids engaged and prevent the summer slide. Explore the capabilities of a random letter generator to incorporate playful learning activities during the break.

To help reduce some of the stress and ensure your children continue to thrive during the summer months, Price recommends parents take some time to create a schedule. “Children and adults appreciate a routine schedule because they know what to expect and what to prepare or look forward to,” says Price. “A summer schedule doesn’t have to be as rigid as their school schedule, but having a schedule will help you in planning fun and educational activities that can assist in preventing the “summer slide” while keeping your children entertained.”

Price says a fun way to help plan a summer schedule is to have a theme for each day of the week and then plan activities around that specific theme. For example:

  • Make it Mondays – Encourage creativity through art activities such as drawing, painting, sculpting, or crafting. You can provide children with the materials and then let them explore their artistic abilities or follow along with online tutorials for inspiration.
  • Trip to Library Tuesdays – Encourage children to read regularly by taking them on a trip to the library so they can pick out age-appropriate books, magazines, or e-books. Consider setting weekly reading goals and/or joining a summer reading program with your local library.
  • Water Wednesdays – Take time to get outside and enjoy the sunshine by going to the pool or enjoying fun water activities at home such as sprinklers, water balloons/sponges, or squirt toys. There are also some really cool water STEM activities you can do such as walking rainbow, elephant toothpaste, and the Skittles experiment.
  • Take a Trip Thursdays – Plan a trip to a nearby attraction such as museums, zoos, amusement parks, etc. You could also do virtual field trips. Many institutions offer online tours and interactive experiences that can provide valuable learning opportunities.
  • Foodie Fridays – Involve children in meal planning, cooking, and baking. Teach them basic kitchen skills and let them experiment in the kitchen with different recipes. This can improve their math skills, reading comprehension, all while teaching them about nutrition.
  • Staycation Saturdays – Take time during the summer to allow your children to explore the locality in which they live. Visit local museums, art galleries, or landmarks you’ve never been to. This is a great way to discover and learn more about your city or town.
  • Switch to Off Sundays – Switch your electronic devices to off and focus on activities that don’t involve screens. Encourage your children to engage in hobbies they enjoy or in family projects such as gardening, board games, puzzles, etc. These activities promote teamwork, problem solving and practical skills.

By incorporating interactive, hands-on learning experiences into your children’s summer schedule, Price says parents will capture their interest and motivate them to participate actively. “When children are engaged in activities that pique their curiosity and interest and allows them to explore, they are more likely to be enthusiastic about learning.”

She recommends the following activities provided by the 4-H program based on the child’s current level of learning:

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