The best thing about summer for kids is also the hardest thing about summer for parents: School’s out. That leaves moms and dads scrambling to find activities, camps, or caretakers to keep kids busy during work hours.
It’s also bad news for learning, as many students stop practicing key math and reading skills. As a result, they not only stop advancing, they actually slide backwards – a phenomenon called “summer learning loss.”
Summer learning loss is a huge problem. Fortunately, there are ways to fight it without feeling like you’re sucking the fun out of summer. Creating a simple summer learning plan is a great way to start. Here’s how:
1. Set some basic goals
Knowing what you’re aiming for will help everyone stay on track. Think about setting goals in reading and math. Your child’s reading goal might focus on completing 10 books, for example. Their math goal might be to do a certain number of math and science-related activities each week. Write the goals down and put them somewhere visible, like the refrigerator door, and have your child track their progress.
2. Make a schedule
It may be helpful to set aside regular days and times for learning activities. Is it easier for your child to do 20-30 minutes of summer learning work every day, or an hour or two a few days each week? Work backwards from your goals: What does your child need to do each week to reach them? Focus on sticking to the schedule right away, so that everyone gets into the habit.
3. Look for resources
Many public libraries run free summer reading programs with prizes. There are loads of educational apps and games online that can make learning feel a little less like homework. Local museums may offer free admittance to students on certain days. See what’s out there.
4. Sweeten the pot
Let’s face it, kids sometimes need a little extra motivation. As part of your child’s summer learning plan, consider offering a reward if they meet their goal, like that pair of shoes they’ve been eying or a trip to their favorite restaurant. Smaller incentives along the way, like offering $5 for every book they read, may also help keep them going.
Remember, summer learning doesn’t have to feel like a chore. Encourage your child to use the time to read great stories, explore their interests, and get curious about the world. Look for natural moments to slip in some math or reading practice while cooking, watching a movie, or riding in the car.
For more ideas and downloadable tools, check out the Summer Learning Resources on our website.