Children work hard throughout the school year to establish new learning skills in every subject. If these skills are not utilized and practiced during summer break, children can lose up to 30% of the knowledge that they worked so hard to gain. This concept is referred to as the summer slide. These losses can really add up. By the time a child reaches fifth grade, they may be as far as two-and-a-half years behind, just from not practicing these skills in the summertime. Luckily this result caused by the summer slide can be avoided. Here are some examples of how to encourage learning in your summertime activities.
Children can maintain knowledge by participating in activities that give them life skills. Washing the car, helping stir food in the kitchen, and watering the garden are examples of ways that children can practice their fine motor skills. When washing show them how to wash, rinse, and dry the car. When stirring the food, make sure to get in the middle and around the edges of the bowl. Water the garden, but don’t over water it; teach the child about what happens when it gets too much. A lot can be learned in everyday activities. Finding teachable moments and small opportunities for them to help is the key.
Taking a field trip can prompt new learning, and also prompt excitement. Field trips could be to places such as a library, a museum, the zoo, or even a farmers market. These trips don’t have to be to extraordinary places for learning to take place. On these field trips, ask children challenging questions to prompt their thinking. Why is the giraffe’s food so high? How come the elephants’ food isn’t that high?
Children mimic what they see in others. Set a good example by learning as well over the summertime. Using a new recipe, reading a book or the newspaper, and even staying updated in current news topics are ways for you to also show them that learning never stops. Have group reading time, or watch informational shows with them.
Even teaching children a new board game to play, can practice skills that were taught in the school year. The skills used in playing these games work on following the rules of the game, counting the number of spaces to move, and even taking turns. If children are active in sports, they are also utilizing and practicing things that they learned in school.
By encouraging children to take part in activities that encourage critical thinking, you can help prepare them to enter the new school year ready to succeed.