School is out for everyone and that means lots of “down time “ for school children - all ages. I think that summer is really an important time for kids to get bored a bit. In other words, fewer schedules, less connected to electronics, more play time and less stress….hopefully for all. I do know that as a working parent, I don’t think summer was as “unstressful” for me as it was for my children…as I had to continue to make sure that they had good child care and supervision - always challenging at times, but it all worked out and I would try to schedule a bit more time for me to be available for some fun outings.
But, with fewer schedules and more time to “hang out” some children do experience what is referred to as “the summer slide”. This can be defined as “the loss of academic skills over the summer break”. When children don’t read, work on math problems, or are not engaged in some sort of learning activity their skills and knowledge over the course of a 2-3 month summer vacation may regress. There is data to show that the loss in learning does vary with grade level, subject matter and socioeconomic status - but most children show some negative changes when they are tested at the beginning of the summer vacation as compared to the end of the summer.
The best way to try and prevent the summer slide is to have an idea or plan on how to keep your children interested in learning….but by doing different things than one might do during the school year.
How about a summer book club or reading program that you might find either on line or through your public library. There are book lists and fun reading projects for all ages…and if your child is older you might join them in reading one of the classics or even a new novel and discussing it together. Even if your child claims to “not like to read” these programs are fun and reading a sports book or a scifi adventure may spark their reading.
Field trips: Whether you live in the city or suburbs or even the country there are many FREE places to visit in your community. That might be a simple trip to the park to play while at the same time talking about why we have parks, and green spaces. Museums typically have programs for children of all ages …and many are interactive with the parents. It is amazing how much “new” stuff there is to learn, for all of us. If you are fortunate to live in driving distance to a national park or seashore take advantage of the many free events there.
Mass transit: I know that when we finally got light rail in Dallas I took the opportunity to ride the rail with our young boys….all sorts of learning taking place as we read signs, and learned how to read a map of the rail system. We also saw some local sites that we had never taken advantage of. Inexpensive way to spend a day and the subway, light rail and bus systems in some areas are really growing.
This is also a good time of year to teach your children a few of the “basics”…whether that is how to pump a swing, or ride a bike with or without training wheels, how to tie their shoes, wash the car, or catch a ball …lots of life skills that may get ignored during the school year, and these are skills everyone should know.