Ah, the revered summer vacation. A time to relax, to toss care into the breeze, to put our feet up and enjoy life. Whether you’re a student, an educator, a parent, or a lifelong learner, something about sunshine and shorts just begs you to take it easy.
But this doesn’t mean that we have to spend our summers without learning! In fact, summer is the perfect season to learn something new, no matter your age or your ability.
For students in particular, it’s important to keep the mind active and avoid summer learning loss, or the “summer slide.” This phenomenon refers to the tendency of some students, over the course of summer break, to lose some of the learning gains they made over the prior school year. This “sliding back” leaves students less prepared when they head back to school in the fall.
It doesn’t take a lot of time or effort to help your learner stay sharp and beat the summer slide. Here are some ideas:
Participate in a summer reading program. Most public libraries offer these programs with fun rewards and prizes. If your library system doesn’t have a program, you can create your own!
Take your own field trips. Visit your local museums, zoos, historical sites, wildlife preserves, art galleries, and other fun places. These institutions are always eager to engage with any visitor who wants to learn.
Become backyard scientists. Ask your learner to develop questions about the birds, bees, and blooms they find in your yard or your local park. Help them design simple “experiments” to investigate nature.
Don’t take a break from the arts. If your learner is a musician, writer, or visual artist, encourage them to keep practicing over the summer. Set a goal to hold a backyard concert for family and friends, finish a short story, or turn a hallway into an art gallery by the end of the summer.
If you want to set a great example for your learner, you should take advantage of the summer learning season, too! It’s the perfect time to try something new.
If you’ve always wanted to try your hand at fishing, grab a pole and give it a try. If you’ve been meaning to read some classic books, head to the library and dive into a copy or an audiobook. If glassblowing has always looked like fun, find a studio and sign up for a class. After all, learning has no age limits!
The sky’s the limit when it comes to keeping your brain engaged over the summer. If you have a great idea for how to beat the summer slide, please share it in the comments! Let us know if you’ve found a great way to learn over the summer--either by yourself or with your young learner.
Amatucci, Dorothy. Stopping the Summer Slide. (n.d.). Retrieved June 12, 2016, from http://blog.ed.gov/2014/03/stopping-the-summer-slide/