Unfortunately, the “Summer Slide” is not a dance! It’s a term used by educators to describe the very real phenomenon of students losing academic ground over the summer as they use their brains less vigorously. Studies have shown that students tend to lose one month of overall learning and two months of reading skills over the summer. For students who plan to take the SAT or ACT later this summer or in the fall, or who want to start off strong in their classes, the Summer Slide can put them at a disadvantage.
The good news is that this loss can be prevented with two-three weeks of academic-related work during the summer months. Your child does need time to relax and recharge in the summer, but things will go more smoothly in the fall with some preparation now.
So here’s an easy remedy: Read!
Encourage your children (of all ages) to read as much as they can. Some may already have assigned reading from school, but reading can also take the form of pleasure novels, magazines, etc. What matters is that they read regularly. Many bookstores and libraries have young adult reading lists that appeal to teens with varied interests.
Some students may also benefit from starting with math or writing tutoring later in the summer to review what they learned last spring and preview what is coming in the fall. Those who struggle with organization and study skills may benefit from work with an academic coach over the summer as well.
For those motivated to work on their own, here are a few ideas/resources:
Khan Academy: You may know that Khan Academy now offers free SAT prep. It’s also a great place for students to work on various topics in math, science, computing, humanities, art, and economics.
Free Rice: This terrific site covers a wide range of subjects (math, vocabulary and grammar, sciences, humanities, geography, foreign languages, etc.). It is fun to use and correct answers donate grains of rice to third world countries!
Explore Interests: Summer is a perfect time to have your child try something new and discover what they are good at and what they like (and what they hate). Whether it is a part-time job, volunteering, or a home-based project, everyone should be doing something in the summer that will help them learn more about themselves as well as build responsibility, independence, and self-confidence. Your child may need your encouragement if they have not yet found something to dive into on their own.
Job shadow: Summer is a good time to have discussions about what your child finds interesting and then seek out an opportunity for them to do some shadowing to learn about a particular field. Try asking friends and neighbors if your child can spend a few hours at their workplace or at least have a conversation to learn more about that field of work.
I suggest that your child have a short break from responsibilities if possible after school is out and then dive into their summer plan with plenty of time for fun and relaxation. I hope you get some of that, too!