Summer and slides go together like peanut butter and jelly. Slides at the Water Park. Slip’n Slides in the backyard. The trusty ol’ slide at the local park. Kids love slides!
But did you know there’s a different kind of slide that your kids need to avoid?
It’s known as the Summer Slide and it refers to kids losing academic skills and knowledge over the summer break when they are out of school and not engaged in educational activities. I just heard about this for this time recently as my 5 year old's kindergarten class was winding down and it makes sense. I had just never had to consider it!
After a long school year, kids have earned some well-deserved down time, but parents, they need your help! It's up to us to provide some fun activities that will also keep our kids' brains busy and active so they can stay off the summer slide!
With summer in full swing, we decided to put together a quick list of some fun ideas for parents to help kids avoid the Summer Slide. Our infographic features our favorite 5 ideas, but keep reading below for a few more ideas.
Here's our full list of ideas:
1.) Read, Read and then Read Some More!
The benefits of reading are well-known and it’s easy for kids to stay in practice during the school year. During the summer break, be sure to encourage your kids to pick up books and continue to read regularly. For younger kids that are still learning to read, be sure to continue reading to them every night even though they may be staying up later. Reading is the most suggested activity to beat the summer slide!
Here's a great list of summer books from Reading Rockets.
2.) Visit Your Local Museums, Lots of Them!
Wow, there are so many awesome museums out there that you can likely find a handful near you to visit. And don’t just stick to the well-known ones. While those are great, there are lots of funky and fun museums of all kinds that can help spark new interests, keep kids entertained and learning all kinds of interesting things!
To discover new museums near you, find your city and state on this great list of museums.
3.) Play Brain-Boosting Board Games!
Did you know that research* has shown that if elementary school kids play board games just twice a week, they will have an increase in brain speed scores of 27-32%?!?! Well, then they should keep playing board games all summer long! There are lots of good summer games to play with friends and family, so be sure to include some that engage the brain so kids can keep their minds sharp while having fun!
The reviews at The Toy Insider are a great place to find the best new games to play.
*full article: http://www.newsweek.com/brain-muscle-really-223348
4.) Start Keeping a Journal and Write, Write, Write!
Now this is a cool way to keep kids in the practice of writing during the summer months, while helping them make lasting memories of their fun activities and adventures. Encourage your kids to start a fun journal, like a Summer Adventure Journal, and empower them with a healthy writing habit they can benefit from for years to come!
To get your kids started with a journal, read these 10 great tips from Journal Buddies.
5.) See a Documentary Movie at an IMAX Theater!
Nothing beats catching a movie in a cool theater on a super hot day. When the urge hits, bypass the blockbusters and see if there’s a good documentary at a nearby IMAX theater. The immersive movie watching experience of IMAX is a treat itself and the subject matter is educational and entertaining!
Find an IMAX theater near you here.
6.) Write Letters to Family or a New Pen Pal and Ask Cool Questions!
This is another great way to help kids practice writing and offers them an opportunity to learn something new. Like a reporter, whether writing to a family member or a pen pal, encourage your kids to ask lots of questions like, “Grandpa, what did you used to do during your summer break?” or “What kind of animals live in your country?” They’ll enjoy the process (the letter recipients will too!) and can learn new things from the eye-opening and interesting answers!
Find a new friend to write to with the Pen Pal program from Amazing Kids:
7.) Go Camping! Connect with Nature!
Even if you can only make it out to the backyard, try to squeeze in some camping this summer to give kids a chance to connect with the outdoors and “go native”. From gazing at stars in the night sky, finding about different animals and plants in a new location, to just running free in a natural space, camping offers lots of learning opportunities, ignites the imagination and sparks a healthy sense of adventure in kids!
Camping with kids takes planning. Read what the experts at REI have to say before hitting the trail with your little ones.
8.) Avoid Screen Time and Encourage Imaginative Play!
This is more of a general idea, and while kids should have time to relax and recharge, be sure that doesn’t include too much time staring at a screen! To help cut down on screen time, try to plan ahead and provide activities that engage the mind and imagination. Having things like building sets, science kits and art projects around can ensure quality play time!
For the best learning toys and tools, visit your local specialty toy retailer. Find a specialty toy store near you here.
You can download a PDF of our infographic to have on hand or share with anyone you know with kids that need to watch out for the Summer Slide.
These are just a few ideas we came up with and there are many, many more. We'd love to hear your ideas for fun ways to keep kids mentally active over the summer, so please share with us in the comments so we can keep adding to this list!