The Summer Slide

The summer slide is not a cool attraction at a waterpark, it is the term used to describe what happens to children’s learning over the summer period. We know, from research worldwide, that children often return to school in September seemingly lacking some of the skills and knowledge they displayed at the end of the previous school term. So, what can we do to avoid the Summer Slide?

The great thing about the summer is the pressure is off. No getting up early. No school-run. More quality time for families to spend together…But, research consistently shows that children who do not engage in any type of mental activity during the summer can lose up to a third of what they have learnt during the school year. The school gates may close for the summer, but there is no reason that a child’s mind should follow suit!

Here are four well established reasons why summer learning can be important for a child’s development:

  • It keeps their minds stimulated:

Keeping a child’s mind working during the extensive summer holidays will help them to avoid experiencing brain-drain and facing a setback once term starts again.

  • It allows a child to focus on the basics of a subject:

It allows them the opportunity to focus on subjects that they find particularly challenging – helping a child get to grips with the key aspects of that particular topic. The extra fun work is likely to help them feel more secure in their ability when returning to school.

  •  It’s a perfect time for discovering the joy of knowledge:

During the summer break a child can learn without the sense of urgency and pressure associated with school. So the brain is free to relax and work at its own pace. This helps to associate happy and positive feelings with learning – perhaps all a child needs to grasp a previously elusive concept.

  • It increases self-confidence:

Taking fun time during the summer to successfully explore a subject that they find difficult in school will help give a child a valuable feeling of accomplishment, self-confidence and pride.

The joy of summer learning is that it does not have to be from books. Collecting shells on a beach and finding out about them, visiting a museum or castle, using a foreign language on holiday, finding out about the history and geography of a destination- there are many, many ways in which children can learn and remain stimulated over the summer.

As an English teacher, I am often asked to recommend things to improve a child’s English over the summer and my number one tip is: READ!

How can parents encourage their child to read?

  • Set an example. Let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  • Furnish your home with a variety of reading materials. Leave books, magazines, and newspapers around. Check to see what disappears for a clue to what interests your child.
  • Give children an opportunity to choose their own books. When you and your child are out together, browse in a bookstore or library. Go your separate ways and make your own selections. A bookstore gift certificate is a nice way of saying, „You choose.”
  • Build on your child’s interests. Look for books and articles that feature their favourite sports teams, rock stars, hobbies, or television shows. Give a gift subscription to a special interest magazine.
  • View pleasure reading as a value in itself. Almost anything your child reads—including comics—helps build reading skills.
  • Make reading aloud a natural part of family life. Share an article you clipped from the paper, a poem, a letter, or a random page from an encyclopedia—without turning it into a lesson.
  • Keep the big picture in mind. For all sorts of reasons, some children go through periods without showing much interest in reading. Don’t panic! Time, and a few tips from this article, may help rekindle their interest. Which reminds me- buying a Kindle can be a good investment!

I would really love to hear from parents about the things you do together with your children this summer.

Enjoy the sun, enjoy the family time and enjoy learning together.

Denise Trickett June 2015