3 Ways to Stop Summer Slide During the Pandemic
“Summer slide” isn’t just what your kids are begging you to add to the neighborhood pool. It refers to the loss of academic gains during the lazy days of summer where kids spend time outdoors, on vacations and sleeping in. While the break is well deserved, summer slide can be a real problem for some students. And considering the challenges we’ve all seen schools face as the pandemic moved virtually all spring learning online, summer slide could be exacerbated this year.
A recent study by the Northwest Evaluation Association found that children in third to fifth grade lose about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break. Those are discouraging numbers, and it’s not a stretch to assume they’ll get much worse this year.
You’ve made it through the school year, which was a feat on its own. As temperatures rise and summer swings into full effect, don’t be overwhelmed with keeping your children on track. Incorporate some of these simple ideas to help keep your kids engaged and learning all summer.
Don’t have time to incorporate all of these right now? Pin them for later:
Take Learning Outside
Make the summer weather your best friend! Even if some pools and parks remain closed, encouraging your children to appreciate the great outdoors is a no-brainer. Letting your children spend as much time as they want outside doesn’t mean they can’t learn anything.
Take some time to research a few outdoor projects that you can do together. With some creativity, you’ll soon see that anything you can do inside, you can do outside! If you’re working on multiplication tables, try it with sidewalk chalk. If you’re learning about biology, try gardening. Maybe even encourage a true farm-to-table experience by allowing your child to plant, nurture, harvest and cook zucchini or cucumbers.
Check out our favorite Outdoor Toys for Summer to help encourage learning and play.
E-Sports and Online Camps
While we spent much of the spring reminding our kids that they weren’t on vacation, it’s important that now we do treat summer like a vacation. They don’t have to log in for six to eight hours a day to attend class, but finding things they might want to log in for can help encourage fun learning.
Many team sports and summer day camps may be paused, but online camps offer a new type of connection, while also teaching the importance of teamwork. Connected Camps, a program offered out of the University of California Irvine, is hosting an interactive environment to keep students’ minds sharp by offering practice and play across a variety of subjects. From coding and design to media production, your kids can work together and learn from others, all with guidance from expert instructors.
Utilize Edtech Tools
Once you’ve gotten your kid back to their computer, help them make the most of their time. With the right educational technology tools, you can help your kid focus on areas they may have had trouble with during the school year.
For example, Screencastify allows you to create quick screen and webcam videos using a Google Chrome extension. Whether you enlist the help of a tutor or a friendly teacher who goes above and beyond, Screencastify videos are a great way to learn and communicate asynchronously – no need to schedule a live Zoom meeting. Even though we’re still socially distanced, video connection can provide the one-on-one touch that motivates a student to try one more time on that hard project. And it’s not just teachers who can make videos - students can also record themselves giving a presentation. Task your kid with creating a video presentation about their favorite superhero or best friend!
The pandemic has disrupted so much in education, but every challenge presents an opportunity. Take advantage of this opportunity to make this summer as impactful as it is fun! Even on the days when learning feels like too much to ask, be sure to read to them and practice social skills. No matter how our interactions change, some things will never change. A happy, well-adjusted child can overcome even the most difficult academic challenges.
Looking for ways to keep the kids busy and learning during social distancing this summer? Sign up for the Prepared Parent, a daily newsletter filled with everything to help mom and dad in their roles as teacher-parents.
James Francis is a graduate of Dartmouth College and Harvard Business School and the CEO of Screencastify. He is based in the Chicago area.