10 Ways Students Can Beat the “Summer Slide”

Summer fun is great, but it’s important to keep kids’ minds working over break.

As a third grade teacher, I am far too familiar with the “summer slide.” My students leave school in June reading on grade level. When they return in August, they’ve slid back a level or two. They end the year knowing all of their multiplication and division facts. Three months later, they’ve forgotten most of them.

Beat the Summer Slump

Just a little bit of practice over the summer can combat potential backsliding and prepare children for the next grade, so at the end of the school year, I send home a list of activities parents can do with their children to beat the slump. Here are 10 of my students’ favorite activities.

My students leave school in June reading on grade level. When they return in August, they’ve slid back a level or two.

1. Sidewalk Chalk

Sidewalk chalk is a fun and inexpensive way to review skills. Just go to the dollar store, pick up a pack of chalk, and send kids outside on a nice day. They can practice math facts or spelling words, and it's amazing how much more motivating it is to write with chalk on the driveway than with a pencil on paper!

2. Play-Doh

Like chalk, Play-Doh is another hands-on way to review skills without kids even realizing it. For younger students, use alphabet cookie cutters to review letters and their sounds or shapes and colors; older kids can use them to spell words. You can also have children build something with the Play-Doh and write a story about their design.

3. Family Game Night

I always recommend that my students set aside one night a week as a "Family Game Night." Board games are a great way to practice important skills! For example, Candy Land reviews numbers and colors for younger children, while older kids will benefit from money skills learned in Monopoly or vocabulary and spelling practice with Scrabble.

4. Online Learning Games

I know. It’s summer, and we don’t want kids on electronics all the time. However, I couldn’t put this list together without mentioning all of the great online resources available to keep kids’ minds active. I promise, this suggestion is the only one that involves technology! Many schools subscribe to programs that students have access to all summer long. My students have access to reading and math practice on Front Row, while my son’s school subscribes to Reflex Math and Storia. Thirty minutes a day of reading or math practice using these programs on a computer or tablet won’t hurt. Check out some other math programs my students love. Bonus: Many of them are completely free!

5. Take a Nature Walk

To offset the time spent on the computer, we’ll go outside next. A nature walk is a great way to learn. Kids can use their senses to learn about the things around them. They can collect rocks, sticks, or leaves along the way. At home, have them sort the items by size, shape, or color. You can also challenge them to build something with the items. It doesn’t hurt that they’re getting exercise, too!

6. Cooking

There are so many skills children can learn in the kitchen! Parents can ask their kids to prepare a snack or even dinner, where they can help read the recipe and measure ingredients. Check out my “Cooking and Learning in the Kitchen” lessons. Each one includes a recipe and three learning activities for ages 3-12. Cooking with kids may be messy, but it is a great educational experience for them!

7. Plan a Picnic

Now that the kids are experts in the kitchen, they can plan a picnic. Have them plan a menu, use the grocery store weekly circular to figure out the cost, and shop for the ingredients. They’ll be so excited to make the food and enjoy their picnic lunch on a beautiful summer day!

8. Travel Games

Summer is the time for traveling. Long car and plane trips are perfect opportunities to practice important skills. Children can see how fast they can answer addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division facts. Play road trip-friendly games, such as “I-Spy.” Choose a category, and see if they can name an item for each letter of the alphabet. For younger children, this will allow them to practice letters and sounds, while older children will expand their vocabularies. Not only will kids be reinforcing what they learned in school, but they may even forget to ask, “Are we there yet?”

9. Go to the Library

Reading over the summer is so crucial in preventing “summer slump,” and the library is a great place to get an endless supply of books and information. Encourage students to get a library card and visit their local branch each week to select new reading materials. Let kids pick out books that interest them and make time each day to read them.

10. Read Before Bed

Let’s wrap up our list with something that should be a habit not just during the summer, but all year long.

Set aside 15 minutes before bed each night for bedtime stories. Parents can read books aloud to their children, or older kids can practice their read-aloud skills. Kids can also practice making up stories with a beginning, middle, and end; this is a great way to use their imagination. Even if families don’t have time for any other learning activities on a busy day, this tradition will help to stop the “summer slump” in its tracks.

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Author Bio:

Tara Dusko is a third grade teacher and blogger. She shares time and money-saving tips for moms and teachers on her blog, www.flavorsfashionandfun.com.

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