By Erica S. Stevens, PhD
Have you planned for the summer? January was the opening of camp registrations and not to cause any anxiety, but they fill up fast. Spreadsheets with dates, prices, type of camp with vacation time in between, all completed by the end of February was my M.O. for several years, but as my profession took me deeper into the research of summer learning loss, I felt like I needed to take another look at my spreadsheet. The camps were great, but I added a few more things to my mommy toolkit that has led to more fun and enriching summers.
Over the summer months, most students lose math and reading skills. This learning loss is known as “summer slide”. The National Summer Learning Association states that “the effect of summer learning is cumulative and by fifth grade, summer learning loss can leave low-income students two-and-a-half to three years behind their peers.” The good news is that you can can help your child prevent summer learning loss. Here are a few tips to turn summer slide to summer strides:
- Enroll in quality camp experiences. Take a look at your child’s school reports to see what skills need additional support and those they have mastered that can be leveraged to continue to spark their love of learning. Enroll your child in quality summer camp experiences that can support both academic and social growth. As they grow older, also seek volunteer, mentorship and work experiences.
- Read everyday, practice writing and have fun with numbers and science. Make sure the books are “just right” for your child. Suggestions can be obtained from the school, local library and online. Science is everywhere; grow something, build something, cook something, and explore something.
- Provide real world experiences and application. Plan activities that bridge what your child learns in the classroom to their everyday experiences. This includes academics and life skills.
- Tap into your child’s creativity with music and art.
- Let your child choose activities when possible. Provide choices that are meaningful and of interest to your child. This helps to grow confidence and to maximize learning.
- Have some unstructured time to play, explore, create, connect or just rest.
- Limit screen time. Prioritize quality content for your child.
- Get out and move. It’s easy to fall into the trap of getting less exercise because of the summer heat, but summer is the perfect time to spend more time outdoors.
- Maintain routines. Bedtime and other routines are still important to maintain in the summer.
Sleep recommendations: 3-5 years 10-13 hours per 24 hours, 6-12 years 9-12 hours per 24 hours, 13-18 years 8-10 hours and don’t forget you, parents need at least 7 hours per night.
- Be intentional in talking to your child about he/she learned and what they enjoyed.
- Have fun! Learning can happen in spaces all around us.
The Friends School of Atlanta (FSA) is grateful to FSA mom Erica Stevens for contributing this post. FYI, FSA’s STEAM-based Summer Camp Program still has openings in select camp sessions, with offerings for children aged 5 to 15. Visit our Summer Camp page for more information.