26 May Summer is Coming! 6 Tips to Beat the Summer Academic Slide
With summer vacation just around the corner, follow these 6 tips to help keep your kids’ academics on track and slow the summer academic slide! ALOHA Mind Math offers common sense tips to allow parents to support their children in keeping math, reading, and writing in focus during the summer months and still have fun.
1) Keep kids counting and reading every day
When you get gas, when you go shopping, when you tell time – get your kids involved. Have them tell you the cost of the cereal they want or of the toy they like. Have them add the two up. You don’t have to make it about whether it is expensive, or not, but instead, just about the fun of being able to add things up. Although, for slightly older kids you could give them a budget of X dollars they can spend at the store and have them keep track on a little notepad. This trick can head off arguments, and some of the “but Mommy, I need it,” if you are clear about the spending limit up front. And they will be practicing addition and subtraction. You may have to help kids with sales taxes though!
When you travel – teach them to use a smartphone mapping app and calculate how many miles you will be traveling before the trip. When driving and “they ask are we there yet?” you can have them check the mapping app themselves to see how many more miles and how many more minutes. Parents can also help kids trace on Google maps, ahead of time, the route you will be flying. That way when they look out the plane window, they know that they are flying over, for example, the Mississippi River. It might lead a child to exploring things like how long that river is, and where it’s headwaters start, and what are the largest cities along the way…you never know where their interests might lead them.
There are also websites and apps for plotting out trips and hikes. One of them is TravellersPoint.com – the free level is supported by ads. A friend uses this app to track his long-distance travel trips and short snippets about points of interest kids could read about before you arrive. An app for local walking and hiking trips is called MapMyWalk.com. It also has a free version; both apps also have a website too. One of my friends hikes a lot and she uses this second app to create a map of where she walked, how long it took her and the distance. It also plots your route, via GPS, on an interactive map you can review later. You can even add photos of cool things you see, and family pics along the way.
Find clever ways to get your kids to crack open a book and read!
Set up reading times daily or three times a week.
- For younger children, you can read to them.
- Slightly older kids can read their fav books to you.
- And even older kids can join you on the couch while you read your book, and they read theirs. Modeling the behavior you want to see from them can be a powerful, yet subtle message.
On the other hand, you can sneak reading (and math) into everyday tasks too. Have kids read the ingredients and measurements to you for the recipe you are making. When making a salad add math to the mix with silly things; pull out a measuring tape and have them measure the carrots or potatoes before you chop them, or have younger kids count the cherry tomatoes. Children can also help you measure the ingredients – either reading you the measurements or filling the measuring cup with the flour to the line you show them and then dumping it into the mixing bowl. They get bragging rights of “I helped make it,” when everyone says how great dessert was. Yes, it can be a bit more of a messy clean up, but you are also building strong memories too.
See our earlier blog post on summer reading tips, ways to help your kids use the library creatively and what the benefits of summer reading are.
2) Explore Something
This tip be a sneaky way to slip in some math and reading hiding in fun science and nature learning. When you child asks “Why?” help them look it up online and help them find an accurate source for the answer. If they show greater interest, head to the library. Why is the sky blue? How many more baseball games will we see this year? Are whales mammals? How far away is the moon? Any question your child is interested in can be mined for things to learn. Find science or nature oriented podcasts to listen to and ask your kids what they learned. PBS has some great resources over the summer, as well as NASA.
3) Ideas to keep your kids writing.
Teach kids to write and keep a journal. It can be a gratitude journal, a note of one thing they did each week – but make at least three sentences. Have them write to aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents or even a friend who moved away. If they are interested in a topic, have them write to someone famous, or knowledgeable about a topic.
4) Take an online or in-person class
While online math games and apps for kids can be fun, a summer program for math, or reading and writing has been shown in studies to slow the summer slide. Signing your child up for an online or in-person class at a learning center like ALOHA for reading, writing or math might just be the ticket. The familiar structure of a teacher-led course can help bridge the freedom summer offers with fun learning that will help keep your child’s mind sharp. In addition to online teacher-led classes and online games, family board games like Dominos or card games like Crazy Eights and Uno – are also fun ways to spend family time an encourage learning, without kids being in the know. And there are many newer games since we were children. For example, if you have been hooked on the game Wordle, 6 chances to guess a 5 letter word, why not have them help you figure it out too?
5) Make learning a daily habit.
Have real life conversations with kids. Help them understand the world around them by talking about the things you do and see. How do you use math, reading and writing in everyday life? Practice patience with your kids if you are working from home. It can be hard balancing having a bored child hanging around your office; however, asking a child to read a book quietly near you, or do a math or puzzle book or online math game, while explaining that you are reading your email or using math in a spreadsheet, programming or working on the family budget. Verbally drawing these parallels can help them connect what you do in the real world to their own learning.
6) Build in play/action breaks.
While we want and need kids to keep learning, we can’t keep stuck in their chairs all day. A retired math teacher friend suggested parents try to keep things on a positive note, and keep it short, even just 5 minutes – think of it as a quick game or “flirt” with math and writing; leave them wanting more. For a change of pace, on a rainy day – build a fort from blankets and a table then involve them in telling a story. Try mixing it up and having your daughter save the dragon from some danger instead of you saving the princess from the dragon! Parents can also get in on the act. Have your child show you the jumping jacks and physical stuff they do in class when the teacher has them take a break – Go Noodle has some great ideas to offer. And most of us know we need more exercise too.
Stay positive. While it can be a challenge to support your child throughout the summer and help them improve their math and reading skills; it is a worthwhile effort.