Preventing the summer slide

(WTNH)-Summer is an important time for children to relax and enjoy more unstructured play opportunities, however, it is also important for parents to keep an eye on some of the core learning skills that help children succeed in their learning opportunities throughout the school year. And, as the start of school is lingering just a few weeks away it is equally important for parents to help prepare their children for a smooth transition back to school. The ’summer slide’ occurs when children lose some of the academic skills and dispositions they gained during the school year due to the absence or infrequency of learning activities during summer vacation. The good thing is that parents can help prevent the summer slide without ruining summer or making their children feel tied down to school-like activities.

Educational consultant Chrissy Khachane has some tips:

Tip #1. The most important skill parents can spend time on over the summer is reading. Children should read for 20 minutes a day (for young children, this includes being read to by and an adult). You can establish a family reading program or take advantage of what is available at your local library. Summer can be a great time to introduce a series to your child and become a great reading motivation. And if reading has taken a back seat in your house this summer it is easy to start back up again by simply taking a few minutes with your bedtime routine to read aloud with your child.

Tip #2. Keep a summer journal and ask your child to write daily. The topic can vary from sharing thoughts on something they’ve read, writing a short story using details from a recent outing, or writing out a plan for an upcoming vacation. Younger children can draw a picture for their journal entry and label important details. This can also be a great transition back to school activity and doesn’t have to be extravagant or elaborate. Simply having your child work on a writing activity for 5-10 minutes will help them with the transition to more traditional classroom expectations.

Tip #3. Use family vacations and even daily activities into learning opportunities. Children can turn a family vacation into a social studies project researching information about the destination, including local historical sites to visit during the trip. Children can create maps, keep a journal throughout the vacation, or even write a fictional story based on the things they see while away. Daily activities, such as an outing to the grocery store, can include math activities or a trip to visit a friend/family member can involve creating a map with labels of important information (younger children can identify shapes and colors they see along the way).

Tip #4. One of the most important things you can to in preparation for back to school is begin to reintroduce a school appropriate bedtime about a week, or ideally two weeks, before the start of school. CSchool age children (ages 7-12 years old) should get approximately 9-11 hours per day, while younger children (ages 3-6 years old) need 10-12 hours per day (this includes nap times for those still napping).  Lack of sleep has been found to have a direct correlation with poor attention, learning difficulties, and troublesome behavior. While it is easy to let the evening routine run long, be extra mindful of the amount of shuteye your budding student needs.

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