While teens celebrate school being out for summer, teachers and parents alike often dread what’s known as the “summer slide.” No, this isn’t a fun dance that’s trending now. It’s the loss of those academic skills teachers so painstakingly teach during the school year. One group researched this issue and realized that the seventh graders in the study lost 36% of their reading knowledge and 50% of their math knowledge over the summer. That’s huge! And the summer slide gets more pronounced in older students, so it’s often worse in high school. If you want to avoid having to help your teen relearn calculus, trigonometry, chemistry, and any other subjects you’re not thrilled to be thinking about these days, use these tips on avoiding summer learning loss.
Make Time to Read
simplest way to keep those reading skills in check is to, well, read! Reading for just 20 minutes a day can prevent summer slide, so even reading only at bedtime will help. Many high school teachers provide students with a list of books they should read in the summer, so you can go by that if you want. But if your teen needs more ideas, check out a list of recommended reads, such as the one Goodreads provides. And go ahead and recommend your favorite classics to your child; maybe you can reread them so you can discuss the plot and characters together!
Find Fun Workbooks
Workbooks today are much more appealing than they used to be. Now they have workbooks that correlate with popular shows, movies, and video games, which can grab and keep the attention of students. You can buy them from Scholastic, though Amazon and Costco also have great selections, such as math for Minecraft fans! If you need some incentive for your child to keep using the workbook throughout the summer, come up with some rewards—such as candy, money, or screen time—for when he or she completes each chapter.
We live in a time when everything has been gamified, including just taking steps around the house. So of course there are lots of educational games to choose from this summer. Most online games are free and can improve everything from math and reading skills to vocabulary and geography knowledge. You can find some online educational games for teens at Common Sense Education and Learn4Good, though you can also browse the app store on your phone or tablet for more options. Of course, board games can also be educational since they make you think, so feel free to play Charades, Monopoly, Bingo, and other games with your teens.
Work on Projects as a Family
You can help your teen keep thinking throughout the summer—and do the same for yourself!—by finding some educational projects to do together. For example, you can buy kits where you build items together—such as model airplanes, train tracks, or tracks for marbles to roll around on—or make fun crafts, such as lip gloss or slime. Another idea is to get a microscope kit where you can get a closeup look at items from nature, such as leaves, feathers, or wood. Some kits even come with live items for you to examine. In fact, we have a bowl of water sitting in the kitchen right now that’s filled with sea salt and brine shrimp eggs, just waiting to hatch in the next couple of days so we can study the brine shrimp’s life cycle under the microscope. If you want to see your kids excited about science, summer projects like this are a great start!
Leverage Local Attractions That Make Learning Interesting
Not all learning has to take place at home during the summer. Check out your city to find some fun educational spots that local kids love if you want to keep your teens learning when school is out. For example, Phoenix is home to the Arizona Science Center, which has more than 300 hands-on exhibits, a planetarium, and a theater that shows movies about the Great Barrier Reef, mummies, planets, and more. There’s also the Heard Museum, where you can view beautiful American Indian artwork. Other great local options are the Phoenix Art Museum, Musical Instrument Museum, and the AZ Heritage Center at Papago Park. And of course, there’s always the Phoenix Public Library, which features summer reading lists, events, and programs for teens.
As you can see, it’s possible to prevent summer slide, but it does take some time and planning on the part of parents. If you don’t have a lot of free time this summer, and your teen wants to make money before returning to school, a summer job is another way to ensure he or she spends more time thinking and communicating with others than just staring at screens in June and July!