It’s that time of year when parents start looking to the lazy, hazy days of summer. With that in mind, many parents start worrying about the “summer slide,” concerned that their kids will regress and fall backwards without the normal day-to-day structure of school.
Here are a few thoughts on the slide:
Summer goes by very quickly. Before you turn around, you will be shaking your head wondering what happened to summer and not believe it’s back to school.
To be somewhat preventive regarding the slide I would encourage you to establish some rules on the front end.
Let your kids know that they are not going to be allowed to zone out all day on Youtube or their various screens. Perhaps an hour or so of those screen activities is ok, but let them know that there is going to be a basic academic portion to the day, as well as a great deal of time spent outdoors.
In other words, summer should be time of screen “detox.” (Yes, they will go through various stages of working through their screen addictions – stay strong).
Take them to that ancient building in your town called the “library.” Reacquaint them with the concept that the library has these things in it that we used to look at a great deal called “books.” Talk to the librarian about finding books that are in the child’s independent or instructional level, that is the level that the child can manage reading on his or her own without too much assistance.
(If your child has a significant reading/learning disability then make sure that they have access to audio books.)
Have your child read books out loud to you. Assuming the books are leveled properly, the act of reading out loud should be fun for your child. Do this a lot.
If the child has problems with decoding, preview the books and look for difficult words to practice. Use old school index cards and put these words on the cards, underlining the parts of the word that will highlight how the word should be broken apart. Practice these words in a lively manner. Make it fun.
Vocabulary is a fundamental life skill and a cornerstone of comprehension and writing. Along with decoding practice, perhaps get a vocabulary guidebook, like one of those books that you can get in the bookstore (yes, they still exist) with titles like, “The 300 Words that Every Fifth Grade Should Know.” Have your child put those words on the index cards (a separate box of words from the decoding) as well and have them draw a little picture to go with the word.
For example, let’s say the word is “remedy.” They can put the word on the front with a little picture like a bowl of soup to go with the word. On the back would be a brief definition and a small sentence, like “My mom gave me soup as a remedy for my cold.”
Practice the words adding to the vocabulary bank as words are mastered. If you do this four or five times a week, by the end of the summer, you should have a pretty decent word bank.
You might try similar activities with mathematic workbooks. Again, don’t be too heavy handed in the approach, but practicing math facts and basic math skills or math word problems never hurt anyone.
If your child does not go to a structured camp or some other type of summer program, then do these activities in the morning before the day has kicked in. If they go to a structured program then do it before the nightly screen time starts. Even if they go to a camp, maybe you can do some of these academic activities before they have to leave in the morning.) I stress not to be too heavy handed and keeping it fun and lively.
I would suggest that you do no more of an hour of this type of thing a day.
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