Summer is here! And with the hot weather and longer days can come the “summer slide” – when children can lose months of hard-earned learning while they’re playing in the sprinklers and chasing the ice cream truck.
But, not to worry! A few easy steps can make a major impact in avoiding this potential pitfall. I founded Learning Heroes to help parents help their children be successful in school, and we’ve developed some simple tips to make sure your children don’t lose hard earned progress during the summer months:
- Make Reading a Family Affair: Maintaining a reading habit over the summer is essential for staying up to speed – it can also be a great avenue for family bonding. Try starting a family book club that meets on one scheduled night or morning a week. If your children are at different reading levels, one might read the book solo, while the other works with you. Let them choose the topic. There are many great tools to help you select the right book – check out the Great Kids book finder for some reading list inspiration. Pose questions like “What surprised you most about the book?” or “Who was your favorite character?” You’ll learn more about what your children have on their minds, all while keeping skills sharp for the school year ahead.
- Keep It Social: To make sure the dog days don't leave you out of the loop on new friends and influences, ask your child at least one open-ended question about their social lives per day (“Tell me about one good thing that happened today and one thing you wish happened differently”). Research tells us that adults are often the last to know about problems like bullying, and making sure peer relationships are part of your regular conversations at home will help you notice potential issues early.
- Start a College Conversation: Seventy-five percent of parents believe it is very important or absolutely essential for their child to attain a college education, according to a recent study conducted by Learning Heroes, and it’s never too early to start a conversation about this goal. One of the most powerful things we can do as parents to improve our children’s chances for success in college is so simple: talk about it! Your child may be thinking more about water balloons, but don't be deterred. Encourage them to talk to their camp counselors or coaches about where they went to school. If accessible, take a day trip to a nearby college and have a picnic on the lawn. You'll learn more about what interests them, all while laying the groundwork for a solid academic future.
- Tap into Screen Time: Even the most active children might find themselves with more time to veg over the summer. But not all TV has to be a guilty pleasure. Check out this guide to movie and TV shows that help young people build character strengths like compassion and curiosity. You can filter for the trait you want to nurture, point your children towards the right programs and make sure the message hits home.
The bottom line: a summer filled with fun on the slip and slide is no excuse for the dreaded summer slide! Give these tips a try with your children and check out more resources, ideas and even a Readiness Roadmap at www.BeALearningHero.org.
Bibb Hubbard is the Founder & President of Learning Heroes, an organization to build parent and guardian understanding and engagement in their child’s education. She is the mother of two boys, ages 11 and 14.