Friday, June 3, 2016

It's June! Many schools are already out for summer, and we have just one more week left in our school year. As we are getting ready to enjoy our summer break, the schools and websites are kindly reminding us about a phenomenon known as summer slide. Is it really a problem and can we prevent it from happening?
Why I Am Not Worried About Summer Slide

Is Summer Slide Real?

The short answer is it depends. The data show that it disproportionally hits low-income students who lose up to 2 months of skills both in math and in reading. Math skills decline on average for students of all backgrounds while reading skills increase slightly for middle and upper class students. Ironically, high achieving students show very little of that slide during summer months. Why? Well...

Summer Is Time for Self-Directed Learning

I don't believe in summer homework and summer packets from school. Summer should offer kids more freedom to decide what they want to do with their time. In our area, many kids spend all 10 weeks of summer going from one camp to another. Don't get me wrong - summer camps can be great in offering kids activities that fit their interests in music, sports, arts, or science, but I also strongly believe that during summer kids should receive a gift of doing nothing. They should have unstructured time to dream, tinker, play, read, and even get bored. 

Beware of Screens

It's tempting to let kids to be "safe" inside playing video games or watching TV. With so many high quality (and not so high quality) options of electronic edutainment, how much is too much? Personally, I believe that this limit is different for every child, but if your children cannot find anything else to do but watch TV or play video or computer games, they have probably exceeded their healthy amount of electronic exposure even if they are doing something educational. Kids need to experience life with all five senses, and summer is the best time to get out and do just that.

What About Reading?

Yes. I believe reading should be "mandatory" in summer. Luckily, we never had a problem getting our child to read - we have rather the opposite problem of disconnecting her from books just like other parents need to disconnect their offspring from digital devices. If you have a reluctant reader,
check out this terrific post from Growing Book by Book with a variety of ideas to encourage summer reading.

What Do We Plan to Do?

When we planned this summer, we tried to balance it between unstructured and structured weeks. My husband is taking two first weeks of summer break off, so Smarty can swim, read, play, and maybe build with him. Then she has Camp Galileo for 2 weeks. It's going to be her third year, and she can't wait to go. July is our travel month - Smarty will spend 2 weeks in New Jersey with my parents, then we come back, rest for a couple days and go with our neighbors to the family camp near Yosemite. Then one more week of camp and more unstructured time until school returns. What will Smarty do with all her free time? Hopefully I can capture some of her endeavors on the blog :)

Your Turn

Why I Am Not Worried About Summer Slide

Are you concerned about summer slide and what do you do to prevent it?

More Summer Activities for Kids

Preventing Summer Slide

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An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

I was just thinking about summer slide for math - and what to do about it this summer. Smarty has quite a nice summer schedule. I hope it turns out to be as fantastic as it looks :)

Ticia said...

Well, you saw my plans to stop the summer brain drain.... I'm not too worried about it, my plans are at least partially to keep them somewhat entertained.

Christy McGuire said...

Good point about the socioeconomic differences. Perhaps this is a topic we should be looking at more broadly for all children.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you got an awesome summer planned for Smarty. Mine will have some school, I really want to focus on Russian for the little one, some math here and there, both are already reading like mad and write in their journals. They did write down topics they want to explore, so we'll do that if we can too.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

I have never worried about summer slide. I think brain drain happens when children do not have access to educational materials. Sadly, it is yet another case of the underprivileged becoming even more underprivileged. I do think that paying attention to how and when screens are being used is important.