How to keep your child off the summer slide in the school holidays

Want to help your child avoid the summer slide in the school holidays? Find out what the summer slide is, and read simple tips to keep off it. 

With the end of term approaching and the start of the summer holidays, no doubt you and your child will be looking forward to some exciting experiences, travel and quality time together.

While this is a great time to bond with your child, it’s also important to remember the progress they will have made during the academic term, and not to let this slip during their time away from school – often referred to as ‘summer slide’ or ‘holiday slide’.

What is the summer slide?

‘Summer slide’ is the term used when students take a break from school and lose some of the academic gains they have made over the school year. This can be down to a number of factors, but the tendency for this to occur has been highlighted in students who have struggled in a particular area – particularly reading or mathematics.

Research has repeatedly shown that this ‘loss’ can be the equivalent of up to three months of academic learning.

Will my child be affected?

This really does vary from child to child. If their teacher has highlighted an area where your child requires extra support, or if your child has already been receiving extra support, these are the key areas to be mindful of during the summer break.

Speaking with your child’s teacher is the best way to know whether your child might experience summer slide, and what areas they may experience this in. Once you know this, the easier it will be for you and your child to prepare suitable activities to help them.

What can I do to help my child avoid summer slide?

If you’re travelling during the summer and away from home, it might seem like this could be a difficult task, but there are plenty of ways to help your child avoid summer slide.

One of the key things is to know where they need support the most; the next key thing is to make it fun! This is a great opportunity to support your child, and let them take a lead on their learning too.

Below are a few activities that are highly tailor-able to children of different age groups, with a focus on different academic areas.

1) Reading

  • Encourage them to read – research shows that reading six books over the summer can help prevent your child regressing. Picking a series of books can really help keep your child interested and enthusiastic.
  • Read different things every day – challenge your child by asking them to read different things everyday, such as newspaper articles, street signs, instructions on packaging. This will expand their experience with different text, and help them when they read on their own.
  • Encourage them to read aloud – reading aloud benefits all children, especially those who struggle. Reading out loud yourself will also help build their comprehension and aid their own reading as they pick up different words and enunciation from you.

2) Writing

  • Keep a journal with your child – this is something your child can do alone or with you. Ask them to write details about their day, people they meet and their experiences. Invite them to draw pictures and write about what they have drawn.
  • Have a ‘word of the day’ – each day find a new word to teach your child. Teach them what it means, how to spell it and ask your child to practice using it in different sentences. You can do this daily or weekly, depending on the age of your child and their ability.
  • Try creative writing – give your child prompts and ask them to write you a short story. For example you could give them a character (a bear), a place (a forest) and an object (a fallen tree). You can time them writing, or let them write freely

3) Mathematics

  • Get them involved with the cooking – this is a great way to practice maths without seeming too maths orientated! Ask them to add things together, or divide to make smaller amounts. You can get creative and make new recipes together, teaching them about units as you go.
  • Practice counting in the everyday – this can be something simple like adding up how many red cars they see or you can get creative – count the red cars but minus every time you see a blue car.
  • Play Math Bingo – create an easy bingo card with sums on it (you can match this to your child’s ability). Your child has to look for numbers during the day, whether at home or travelling, that are the answers to their bingo sums. The aim is to find all the answers.
  • Paint by numbers – activities such as ‘paint by numbers are a great little maths activity for younger children to practice their addition and get creative too!

Help your child to stay off the summer slide this year

Working with your child to maintain good learning habits over their summer break allows you to not only make learning a fun part of life, but to also establish your family as active learners. Staying mindful and supporting of your child’s learning journey, even when out of school, will give them the best possible start to the next academic year.

Elaine Mead is a passionate education and careers consultant, and is particularly interested in empowering young women to be their professional best. You can follow her on Twitter and read more of her articles on medium.