What is the Summer Slide?
The Summer Slide, also known as summer learning loss, is the backwards step your child takes when they have a break from learning, particularly in reading and maths. For many children, this shows up after the summer holidays (hence the name!), but due to the pandemic there’s growing evidence that children will experience a further COVID Slide too.
If you want to help your child avoid both the COVID and Summer Slide this year, here are a few things you can do.
1. Encourage your child to continue learning over the summer holidays but prioritise play
It's important that your child has a break from learning and is able to get out and about and socialise. Having friends over for a playdate, going for bike rides and just mucking about in the garden are important activities for children's mental health.
Foreign travel may be off the cards for most but there are plenty of places in the UK to visit now that museums and galleries are reopening. National Trust properties offer children the chance to explore gardens and outdoor play areas as well as bringing history to life. Trips to new places spark young imaginations and stimulate curiosity in a way that virtual visits simply can't.
As a tutor, my advice is to make learning a non-negotiable part of your daily routine to help them to avoid the summer slide but prioritise play. It's easy to fit in 10-15 minutes a day of reading or maths around play dates.
For older children an hour a day is ideal and doable. Encourage them to spend time reading to you and to share details of what their latest book is about.
Get them to teach you about one of their favourite subjects or hobbies. My youngest child really enjoyed teaching me how to edit a video while my eldest went through some everyday basics of French conversation with me!
The faster they understand that learning is a non-negotiable part of their summer routine, the faster they’ll embrace the skills it’s giving them and the learning they need to do.
2. Concentrate on the core skills: reading and maths
Any reading your child does, will help them to practise their reading and comprehension skills. Let them choose their own reading material from a range of fiction and non-fiction options and let them read on any device – it doesn’t have to always be a paperback book! I'm a huge fan of The Week Junior as it explains current events in a way that is fun and inspiring to children.
Encourage your child to learn the basics of maths – time tables, addition and subtraction, multiplication and division. You can have them work out simple equations, read numbers, count cars, read the time and repeat their time tables out loud.
Enrol them into group summer workshops or hire a one-to-one tutor to help them brush up on those core skills they need.
Problem-solving skills can be enhanced in a number of creative ways. Look for puzzles and games that will enable them to think in a creative way – such as physical puzzles, sudoku, word searches, crossword puzzles, construction toys.
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3. Make learning fun!
Studying doesn’t have to mean sitting at a desk and working in silence. Encourage your child to learn something new, such as:
Encourage them to read every day in an environment that’s comfortable for them.
Play games that revolve around reading comprehension, such as guessing what's going to happen to next
Give them random sets of words to write a story about.
Set them a fun challenge to read 10 books during the summer holiday
Baking is a good skill to learn and it gives your child another opportunity to read fractions and learn measurements.
Give them a journal to write down their thoughts and feelings. This will help them with their writing skills and also serves as a way to vocalise and express their emotions too.
Get story writing!
Let them teach you about one of their favourite subjects or hobbies. My youngest child really enjoyed teaching me how to edit a video while my eldest went through some everyday basics of French conversation with me!
4. Reward their hard work
The summer holiday time is a chance for your child to have fun. You can make learning a daily part of their routine, but you need to allow them to get outside and let their hair down for a while each day too. Look to reward them with a special activity or day out or the money to buy something they’ve been saving up for.
The Summer Slide is something that’s a real concern for many parents and with COVID further adding to it, that’s totally understandable. However, by implementing the ideas above, you’ll have done all you can to help your child avoid that backward step in learning and given them all they need to spring forward in the Autumn term.
If you would like some professional support for your child over the summer, why don't you take a look at our Summer Creative Writing Courses?
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