Fun Ways to Avoid The Summer Slide Without Making Your Kids Resent Learning
When I was a kid, my mom made us do worksheets before we could play outside. For some strange reason, I thought everyone had to do that so I never really thought it was weird. Who knew my mom had a strategy for avoiding the summer slide? Fast forward to my kids and I sort of maintain the tradition. I’m not quite as strict as my mom (in general, not just for this), but my son has had summer workbooks since Kindergarten.
My oldest son is a good student, but he’s also a bit of a lazy student, since he was blessed with my great memory. I don’t want him to stop practicing over the summer months since a lot of early learning involves repetition. He is also on the younger end for his grade level, so he is in the same grade as kids who are almost an entire year older than him. The summer slide could put him way behind some of his classmates.
That being said, my son doesn’t enjoy homework (neither do I!) so I try to find engaging summer activities to make it feel fun, not like homework. If you’re looking for fun, educational activities, I’ll share some of my son’s favorites. Since he attends summer camp due to my work schedule, I don’t force him to do educational activities daily, I just try to work in at least one or two activities a week.
Roundup of Best Summer Educational Activities to Prevent Summer Slide
Here are some of the best summer slide prevention activities and tools we’ve used to keep my son’s mind sharp over the summer.
- Unofficial Creative Writing
My son struggles with penmanship and spelling. Writing isn’t his strong suit, therefore he doesn’t like to do it. Instead of making him practice spelling and writing through worksheets, I have had him keep a summer journal. He can write a few lines about something he did that day or something he is looking forward to doing.
This year, I’m going to change it up a bit by having him write about some of the games he makes up. He likes to come up with elaborate games to play with his friends so I’m going to suggest he write down the rules so he’ll remember how to play when he gets back to school.
I also came across a cute idea on Pinterest to do a joint journal. Basically, I write him a letter in a journal and give it to him, then he writes a reply to my letter and so on. And finally, his best friend moved to Texas last year so I’m going to encourage him to write letters to his friend (they have so far, but not frequently) so that he’ll practice writing and maintain his friendship.
A few years ago, while visiting my cousin who has older kids, I saw that she had Star Wars summer workbooks for her son. It had never occurred to me that summer workbooks could be fun. I have gotten my son the Star Wars workbooks for his grade level every year and he loves them. The math and reading comprehension stories involve Star Wars characters so he thinks it is fun to do. I will admit that he has a huge preference of math workbooks so this year I’m skipping the reading comprehension book and will try some other tactics.
- Cook Together
Working from a recipe is a great way to practice reading, measurement and math. My son loves watching kids in cooking competitions on Food Network so whenever I have time, I have him help me cook. He reads the instructions and handles all of the measurements. Now that he’s getting older, he also does the peeling and chopping (not necessarily educational, but good life skills to have).
- Science Activities
My son goes to a S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, math) school so he is fortunate enough to have both a science lab and a Maker’s Space at his school. Since he gets to do real, hands-on experiments, he knows how fun science can be. If you aren’t a science person, there are tons of low-cost kid-friendly science experiments on Pinterest. And don’t worry, even if you do it wrong, it is still a learning opportunity.
I’ll share my Pinterest science fail as an example. This weekend, we decided to make Geodes at home. It looked super easy but I clearly did something wrong since we ended up with some crystals on the bottom of our glass but not on the pipe cleaner. Whoops! The good news is, we’ve come up with some possible reasons for our failure and are going to try again next weekend. So even a failed science experiment is a learning opportunity.
- Reading Rewards
I was telling a mom at school how my son doesn’t read during the week anymore because homework takes too long. It truly breaks my heart since I love reading and wish he got the same pleasure out of reading that I get. She gave me the best parenting advise I have gotten, probably ever.
She told me that she has her son read to her in the car on the way to and from school. He rewarded for every chapter book he completes. I tried it with my son and he has finished two chapter books since starting the reward system. The best part? He has actually asked if we can sit in the car for a few more minutes so he can read more. Even better? His reward is another book so it fosters more reading.
Most public libraries have summer reading programs. If you don’t live near a library or they aren’t open when you can take your kids, make your own summer reading program. You can reward your kids with anything from a special one parent date to a trip to a local ice cream shop.
- Educational Apps
Does your child’s school use educational apps in the classroom? If so, check to see if you can get your child’s login so they can use them at home. If not, there are tons of educational apps available online. I mentioned it before, but my son’s favorite reading app is Epic!, although he also uses Razz Kids in the classroom. Sometimes, the opportunity to get on a screen is appealing enough to make your kids want to learn.
Don’t let the summer slide throw your kids off track. There are plenty of easy educational activities that can be done for little to no money from home. If they are engaging enough, you may not have to oversee your child – they may choose to learn all on their own!
Summer Slide Shopping List
Here are some of my favorite summer slide tools.
*Note – this post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission if you purchase something at no additional cost to you.