As school winds down for the year, now is the time to focus on how you can help your sons and daughters stay on top of their academic game throughout the summer.  As you probably know, when math and reading skills aren’t practiced over the summer, kids can lose 2 to 3 months of progress—that’s the dreaded “Summer Slide”.  But the good news is with a bit of focus and planning, parents can help their children stay sharp and not lose any ground.  Learning Heroes, a great organization dedicated to inspiring and helping parents help their children succeed, offers the following helpful tips, which we can start implementing now:

Know Before You Go:  At this point in the school year, your child teachers have a year’s (or least a semester’s) worth of data about how your child learns.  Find some time before the school year ends to tap into that knowledge base.  Ask the teachers where your child is doing well, where more support is needed and what you can do with your child over the summer to set him up for success in the next grade. Be sure to find time to also talk about this with the specialists (e.g., reading, art/music, scientists, physical education) so that you can get a full sense of your child’s school experience this year.

Check In with the Readiness Check: Learning Heroes has a wonderful resource, The Readiness Check, which allows you to get a sense of how well your K-8th grader has learned foundational skills needed for the next grade.  Have your child take the Readiness Check with you nearby (you will want to see and interpret the results first) and together you can explore the free videos and games recommended to support (or strengthen) these foundational skills.

Strengthen Life Skills: Summertime is a great time to focus on real world skills with your children.  Making decisions, learning from mistakes, how to communicate with others (especially in tough situations) are all topics for great conversations during the less hectic summer months.  Lots of good opportunities for chatting during long car rides!

Let Them Show What They Know:  As your children read and play over the summer, ask them to teach you what they’re learning.  This helps them review important skills and build confidence. Try a two person book club: Ask your son or daughter to pick a book, and agree to read it at the same time.  Make plans to discuss the book at various points as you read it, perhaps over lunch or dinner.  Be sure to let your child lead the discussion, ask open ended questions  (don’t start with “Didn’t you think..?”)  and keep the discussion positive and encouraging, even if you disagree with his or her interpretations.  This can help you learn about what kinds of books interest your child, and will also help you get a better sense of his or her reading comprehension skills.

Discover The Fun Activities in Your Community:  Check out library programs, parks, zoos, museums, aquariums, concerts, and any other fun sounding cultural activity in your community or town.  (We’ll be posting soon about the amazing programs offered by the NYC Public Library!) Check out this helpful GCP post about how to have the most fun and productive museum visits with your children.  Talk with them  before you go about what they want to learn, and afterwards about what they enjoyed.

Hope this inspires you to plan a fun filled productive summer that avoids that summer slide. What are you thinking about including in your kids’ summer plans?  Let us know!!