How to Prevent “Summer Slide”

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HARTFORD — They call is the “summer slide.” Kids who don’t work on any type of learning over the summer, often have a hard time jumping back into things in the fall. So how to you get your children to keep their skills fresh? Dr. Douglas Haddad, child educator and author, stopped by the Fox CT Morning Extra with some tips:

Many kids are beginning or getting close to starting their summer vacation. Do kids experience a loss of skills over their summer break if they don’t invest some time into educational activities and are there certain activities that can help encourage summer reading for children?

The good news is that summer break is here and the kids can relax, have some fun, and escape the day-to-day stress of homework, reading assignments, and studying for various assessment and enjoy friends and family. However, the fact is that children lose crucial skills during the summer months if they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. You can keep a child learning while they are immersed in play and doing something they enjoy. More than half of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning opportunities.

Assigned reading over the summer may trigger the “moan and groan” reactions. However, taking a trip to the bookstore or library, if there is an event going on, can be a great way to get a child motivated to read. Plus, there are endless books to choose to from that are free to loan out. Parents can enhance this process by staying active themselves and asking questions and talking about a book’s plot and characters.

Summer time is the perfect time for kids to learn more about science and nature. What activities can parents get their children involved in to keep learning about science all summer long?

Science is so broad and far-reaching that there are unlimited learning opportunities for children. Families can go hiking together and kids can expand their knowledge of local flora and fauna, geology, bodies of water, and history of the area. Another idea is to visit a museum, exhibit, or zoo which can spark a child’s curiosity and in turn spark conversations between a parent and a child about topics related to science, including marine life, animals, migration, fossils, dinosaurs, natural disasters, and famous scientists in history and then you can go back to the bookstore or library to read more about the topic or purchase a science kit to allow your child to discover a topic at his/her own pace and try out some fun science experiments. As I mentioned, combining both reading (ex. how to make a garden) with a hands on activity (making a garden, building a compost bin) can be a meaningful learning experience.

How about ways to maintain math skills? Do kids have to sit and practice problems on a math worksheet over the summer to keep those skills in tact?

The fact of the matter is that math skills suffer the most by the summer vacation and are the skills that build on each other the most. Going to the grocery store and seeing what is the best deal and counting change are mind-stimulating activities that are beneficial for children. Also, cooking with your kids can be a great way to infuse reading and math into daily activities – for example: reading a procedure, measuring specific amounts of different ingredients . Also, there are various online games that can help children be successful at math all while having fun. Touch Math has been used for many years and it is effective for children with learning disabilities who experience difficulty learning math through language-based methods and memorizing facts.

There are a wide variety of summer camps available for kids. How can they be of value for a child?

Many summer camps have activities that include some form of exercise. Studies have shown that exercise helps enhance a child’s cognitive development. While some camps focus on sports and physical skills, others such as the YMCA offer programs that focus on values such as respect and responsibility. Summer camps also teach children about the importance of working cooperatively in groups, which is an important trait to help a child thrive at school. Furthermore, other summer camps emphasize problem solving, setting goals, and creating products.

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