For school-aged children, summer break is a time that is often looked forward to from the very first day of school each year.
Although children didn’t always get to enjoy summer break due to the need to work on family farms, kids these days tend to get around two and a half months off from learning each year.
During all of this fun in the sun, there are lots of memories to be made, but unfortunately, there are also lots of memories to be lost.
Summer slide, a phenomenon marked by children losing the information they learned in the preceding school year, is a very real problem, and it’s one that parents and educators alike are trying to fix.
What Is Summer Slide And How Does It Affect Kids?
Summer slide happens much like unlearning any skill. When you fall out of practice or out of a habit, you may forget the information you learned.
For many parents, trying to keep on their kids about continuing education during the summer can be difficult, and kids’ minds often tend to stray from the path of learning and retaining knowledge when there’s so much to do outside with friends.
Some research suggests that as much as 27% of skills learned in formal education may be lost each year due to summer slide. These losses also tend to snowball with each passing year, potentially leading to bigger losses in a child’s later school years.
This startling drop in knowledge retention means that parents are encouraged to do everything possible to reduce the effects of summer learning loss.
How Parents Can Encourage Summer Learning
In order to help children continue to learn and thrive in the upcoming academic year, parents can make it a habit to engage in learning activities with their children.
Even if this type of activity only involves having a conversation about history or discussing math problems using real-world examples, every little bit can help. The key is to allow children to work through problems on their own using the skills they learned in the previous school year.
This approach helps to refresh knowledge that was gained previously as children are required to apply critical thinking based on concepts they have learned.
Reading to young children is also crucial not only for knowledge retention but also for development. Studies have shown time and again that children who experience reading encouragement in the home are more likely to develop academically, and some studies have even shown that the mere presence of books in the home is known to improve academic scores.
STEM Summer Camps And Other Summer Learning Programs
Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are all important subjects in the digital age, and because these disciplines involve technologies that are always evolving, keeping kids on top of STEM subjects during summer is increasingly important.
Thankfully, parents have a number of STEM camp options to keep young minds occupied and sharp during the warmer months.
A STEM camp is usually a summer learning program that involves kids in activities that challenge the mind using interactive games and puzzles.
Robot kits, rocket-building competitions, and similar simple technology-focused projects are some common examples.
Some STEM camps may be sleepaway camps, but others are attended during the day. Depending on the nature of the camp and the age of the children attending, STEM camps and similar academic camps may last for as little as a few days and as long as a few weeks.
Some summer academic camps also take advantage of themes that are incorporated into the various activities throughout the duration of the camp.
This can help students to focus on big topics to surround them with learning. As students spend time at these camps, they become immersed in STEM subject matter that encourages continuing education and preparedness for the upcoming school year.
Another benefit of choosing STEM subjects for a summer camp experience is that many of these camps can be attended virtually.
Using the Internet and a smartphone, laptop, tablet or computer, students can engage in learning from almost anywhere in the world.
This not only benefits busy parents who may not be able to pick up and drop off students at a day camp, but it also gives students the chance to interface with peers globally, further enhancing the development of social skills that can also suffer during summer break.