Prevent The Summer Slide – How to Make Learning Fun without Kids Even Knowing They’re Learning

Today I had the pleasure of being interviewed for a segment on WTOP radio.

You can listen to the clip below.


Many parents and kids alike have grand plans of taking a break from learning over the summer to recharge, but studies show that this isn’t always a good idea. To read the transcript, scroll below!

Do kids really need to keep practicing academic skills over the summer? Don’t they need a break?

Kids lose about 2.5 months of progress in language arts and up to 3 months in math, so it’s important to keep them practicing academic skills, but you don’t need to go overboard.  There can absolutely be a balance between learning and play.

How do you find that balance?

There are actually lots of things parents can do to “disguise” learning. If your child is learning multiplication or decimals, put him in charge of figuring the tip every time you go out to eat this summer. And when you’re shopping, he can also estimate the sales tax on the items you buy.

Another way to squeeze in learning is good old fashioned board games. Consider a family game night once a week where your child gets to pick the game. Games like PayDay, Connect4 and Scrabble are fantastic ways to practice skills and have a lot of fun!

Sometimes students have summer homework assigned by teachers. How do you get your child started early, to prevent procrastination come August?

Waiting until the last week of August to write an essay, finish a math packet, or read a book puts stress on everyone. A good idea is to sit down with your child at the beginning of the summer and find out exactly what he has to do. If he has a book to read, discuss a start date of when he’ll begin reading, and then the dates at which he needs to be to be about a 1/3, and then 2/3 of the way through. Jot these milestones down on a calendar that’s in a public place, such as the refrigerator.

shutterstock_232499257Outside of school assignments, shouldn’t kids be reading for pleasure?

Yes, absolutely, but sometimes as parents, we turn reading into a power struggle. When parents say things like, “Go up to your room to read now” reading becomes a punitive task, which really don’t work well with reluctant readers. For young children, try reading with your child. You read a page, she reads a page.  And if you have a really reluctant reader, you read two pages, and she reads one.

I also like the idea of getting the whole family in on the action. You can set aside 20 minutes a few nights out of the week where everyone sits down to read – could be a book, a magazine, or even the sports section of the morning paper. They material isn’t important, but the act of relaxing and reading is what counts.

Speaking of reading, what’s a hot book for kids this summer?

Check out Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. Great book for kids of all ages, especially middle schoolers!

Have a great summer!

Ann Dolin