School is out! Well, to be fair, school has been "out" for several months for most people. This has been an unusual year, that's for sure. Students have been tossed all over the place! From the outbreak of COVID-19 to government lockdowns to the lack of playdates, and now the traumatizing impact that racism has on Black citizens in America. Our young learners may not even have the social skills to express their feelings and concerns about all these events taking place. However, there is something you can do that may help ease their minds and keep them learning to avoid, "The Summer Slide." The key to all of this is structure and routine.
According to the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, there is a direct link between routine and the feeling of safety in children. Children feel safe when they know what to expect and have a daily plan of action. Even though we can't control what goes on in the world, we can control our day-to-day routines. The journal states, "Family routines help to moderate impulsiveness and oppositional symptoms and traits in children."
So what is the summer slide and what are some things we can do to help our children avoid it? In short, "The Summer Slide" refers to the regression of skills taught during the academic school year due to summertime leisure. During the summer months, students (and some parents) turn their brains off and focus on playing video games, socializing with family, and preparing for summer vacations! These things are great, and students should enjoy a break from schoolwork, but to avoid losing skills, I recommend parents do the following:
Create a schedule- I talked about this in a previous blog post COVID-19 and your school-aged child, and it is still one of the main things I tell parents to try implementing when they notice their kids slacking in a skill. Try to carve out thirty minutes to an hour every day (depending on age) when kids are working on some sort of academic task. Doing this task at the same time every day will minimize frustration and set expectations for your child. It is so important to continue working on skills as often as possible.
Read, Read, Read- Did you know that students can lose up to 25 percent of their reading skills over the summer months? Wow! Reading is the foundation for every other academic skill. When students are good readers, it is usually a big indicator that they will be good in other subject areas. There are several ways you can implement reading into your child's daily routine.
Read-alouds are one great way. YouTube has tons of read-alouds that are very diverse. Read-alouds help with vocabulary, sentence structure (grammar), and teach fluency. (If you don't like the ads on YouTube, you can paste the YouTube link into "Video Link")
Creating a digital library with GetEpic is another great way to help your child continue reading during the summer months. Students can browse different categories of interest, read and save books, and even watch educational videos. Students love using technology nowadays and they may be less apprehensive about reading books online vs having only print copies (but please, if you can provide print copies).
Finally, have students review comprehension skills. I love using Reading A-Z with my older learners. We can take reading comprehension skill(s) and digest them while reading different books. Comprehension questions, lesson plans, and worksheets are already generated in the platform and are aligned with state standards (Reading A-Z is members only. Students enrolled in Holmes Tutoring bundle sessions have free access to this program as well as GetEpic at no additional cost).
Play games-Board games and puzzles are a great way to help students practice their working memory. I've noticed that my students prefer playing games when reviewing math facts and other math-related skills. For younger learners, creating a play area with colors, shapes, and letters of the alphabet and sorting them in some fashion is a great learning resource for them.
Tutoring- Some parents may not have the time to ensure continued learning during the summer months. Try not to beat yourself up about this. We all have periods and seasons when life is busier than at other times. No worries. Several trained tutors can help you create a structured and fun learning environment for your children. Reach out to your child's teacher, or ask a librarian for references. Be sure to ask the tutor if he/she specializes in the age and subject area where your child is needing assistance. I also offer year-round virtual tutoring. I'm highly qualified to teach K-6 as a certified teacher. Check out the new bundle-sessions blog post to learn more about pricing and the structure of tutoring sessions at Holmes Tutoring.
Remember, your children are looking to you to be the beacon of light when chaos seems to be all around. Having predictable structures and routines is a great way to help ease their minds and prevent the summer slide. Please contact me if you want more resources or if you have any questions.