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Help a Mom: How do you prevent the 'summer slide'

Posted July 16, 2013

For traditional calendar students, we're about half way through summer break.

Some kids have been plowing through reading lists, marking up the pages in workbooks, going to educational camps and not slacking on academic efforts. For others, it's been all pool, sun and fun.

Experts say that kids who don't do at least a little reading during the summer can suffer from the summer slide, losing a month or more of knowledge that was acquired during the past school year. But that doesn't mean that kids should skip the pool and stay home sorting through flash cards. It actually doesn't take that much for kids to keep up with what they learned at school.

Time magazine just had an interesting article about summer learning loss, who is at risk and how to prevent it. The answer: Just reading a four or five books of a child's choice during the summer can make a huge difference. Scholastic.com has some good tips for keeping kids reading all summer. And don't forget all of the region's summer reading programs.

My grade schooler loves to read. She has her nose in a book a lot of the time. And she's going to a couple of academic camps of her choosing. With my preschooler, we continue to read lots of books to her each day. And with both, I've made an effort to play a board game or complete a puzzle with them most days.

A friend requires her kids to complete several workbook pages a day during summer break. At my house, we focus more on summer experiences than workbooks or flash cards. Most weeks (thanks to the requirements of this job), we spend time at local museums, historic sites and other venues too.

How do you encourage your kids to read and keep learning all summer long? 

Please share in the comments below! (If you don't see the comments box below, you'll need to log in or sign up for a WRAL account. You can do that by going to the top of the page and clicking on either "log in" or "register").

Help a Mom features a general parenting question or query from readers every Wednesday. If you have a question that you'd like to ask Go Ask Mom readers, click here to email it to me.

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  • JAT Jul 17, 11:31 a.m.

    There is no summer slide. They learn other ways and things during the summer; their brains don't vegetate just because they aren't in school 8 hours a day. Let your kids have fun for a few months. Believe me, they'll be just fine.

  • Chris_H Jul 17, 7:27 a.m.

    My older son now 22 loved to read and it was an easy task to get him to read on off time - went to Barnes and Noble at the beginning of summer and he picked out a bunch of books and read, usually had to replenish. Will admit my youngest now 18 was the challenge and still is to this day when it comes to reading for fun. When he was youg we did some extra summer tutoring which helped but eventually did not need. I don't know if he slid because of not reading or not; he just graduated HS and is heading off to college in August. I think as they get older and no longer go to camps but are too young to go to work there is a year or two of summers with not so much structure that I think is the harder thing for them when they go back to school. Once they have summer jobs there is structure once again but that 8th grade summer/9th grade summer which can be challenging for parents. I will tell you this though - your time with them is precious and it goes so fast.

  • bgrmom Jul 16, 11:05 p.m.

    My 8 year old son just loves to read (thankfully). We have just made it a habit to read 30 minutes every day--including weekends. This might mean reading in the car on the way home from day camp or on the way to swim lessons. On days when he hasn't had day camp or sports, we also do some of the "summer bridge activities" workbook pages. They are a fantastic review and are broken out by days. It's not too much for him and he gets rewarded for doing the "school work", too. He earns time to play on his DS in exchange. He knows, however, that reading every day is an expectation. We've also made it a point to go to the bookstore to let him choose books that he likes to read. There are plenty of free worksheet sites out there for parents who want to find review sheet for the summer, too.

  • dee7 Jul 16, 11:01 p.m.

    I make sure they learn 1 thing every day. It doesn't matter if they learn it from books or just regular play time. They have to state what they learned at dinner with a discussion about it.