Don't Slip and Slide This Summer

Summer invites relaxation, time for parks, beaches, playground slides, and slip n’ slides.  However,  one slide is not fun, or safe, for kids and that’s the academic slide – also known as backsliding. As kids, teachers and parents gear up for summer vacation, backsliding looms in the shadow. Over the summer months, children lose academic ground. Even the brightest students, away from their routine learning environment, may lower their retention of key materials.  Imagine what it must be like for the student who struggles to stay on grade level in reading. Research tells us that, “All children experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational learning during the summer.” National Summer Reading Association
Why not make your summer a classroom, no matter where you are? Whether you are at the pool, on the back porch or in the grocery store, create opportunities for your children to answer and ask questions, solve problems and think critically. Virtually everything we do has educational value.
If you are not planning summer travel, or your children are going to day care, you still can change up the routine to keep the brain juices flowing.

For a few dollars, you can pick up some age appropriate workbooks with math facts. Cut small sections of problems (I cut strips of computation problems of 5 or 10 problems)  and  make breakfast a breakfast of math champions. Give your child a timer. Let him keep track of how long it takes to complete the math strip, and let him compete against the timer to beat a previous time. Have your child make up his own spelling list related to something that interests him. Even a young student who loves basketball can learn to spell words like dribble, foul shot, quarter etc. For added fun, have him bounce his basketball and spell the words at the same time!
Always, always read during the summer. We hear that so often, but studies prove that young children decelerate reading acquisition over the summer unless they practice. Make sure you and your child have a book whether at the beach, on the bus, or in the backpack. Technology often trumps books, but for your children’s sakes, keep books in their hands!
Local libraries have summer reading clubs with incentives, and lots of activities for kids. But, why not host your own reading marathon in your neighborhood or apartment building? For a few hours, transform your space into a perfect summer reading spot. Back yard tents, umbrellas and beach towels or blankets offer a cozy spot to enjoy reading. Invite friends to join in this special day of reading. Have your children pile all their books in baskets or bags to share. Visit the local library and grab books that will suit your readers’ ages and reading levels. Theme your marathon and supply books that suit your theme. For instance, you might host a Reading Marathon at the Zoo. Friends can bring their favorite animal books and a stuffed animal to snuggle up and “read” with at your special reading event. Allow the marathoners to read at their own paces, but also provide a story corner where an older child or adult can read a favorite story aloud. The joy of reading and being together in such a unique setting is motivation enough, but providing stickers or some incentive to indicate participation is also possible. Encourage an actual running lap at the beginning to foster the true spirit of a marathon. Kids will love this unique approach to summer reading! Supply some refreshments and your environment is ready for a great summer reading bash. One year, we turned our reading marathon into a book fair, and families on our street held a giant book exchange. 

If the idea of inviting the neighborhood over is daunting, or would not work, why not have your own family reading marathon? By initiating an electronic blackout, and hauling out the blankets and books, you accomplish the same goal of making reading a priority.  Make reading important and help your child become a lifelong reader. 
Check out these great blogs and websites for useful information.  They provide activities and ideas to help your child stay sharp and prepared during the summer months.

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