Summer for young children is a time for play dates, fun-in-the-sun, and fun-filled days of doing not much of anything, but summer should also be a time filled with learning. Just because school is not in session for most kids does not mean that learning should not be taking place. On the contrary, summer is a time kids can learn from experiences beyond classroom walls and without formal assessments and rigidity. Imagine for just one moment that you have the opportunity to be the teacher to the open, imaginative, wandering mind of your child wanting to do nothing more than simply have a summer of fun. You can combat the summer slide by encouraging your child to devote a small bit of time each day to keeping up the skills they learned during the school year. 

1. Talk to your child’s teacher. Take time to have a conversation with your child’s teacher to determine areas of learning that may be needed to promote academic growth. Ask the teacher what your child can work on during the summer to be better prepared for the next grade and not lose brain power with learning that has already taken place. 

2. Start a neighborhood Kids Book Club. Ask a group of your child’s friends to join you in reading a book and gathering to discuss the book once a week! Have questions and activities prepared about the chosen book to ensure children gain a clear understanding of the book’s message. Serve healthy snacks and allow each book club member the opportunity to choose the next book! If you’d like, invite a story teller to make puppets with the kids to include the book’s characters. Either way, make reading fun!

3. Take a field trip. Create an opportunity to do more with the books that you read during the summer. Have a summer reading theme and take field trips related to the book of choice. For example, if reading a book about Grandma’s garden, take a trip to the Farmer’s Market or take a field trip to the back yard and plant a garden. Be sure to do more with the books that you read and ensure that you make them come alive in the eyes of your child!

4. Have a Swap Books Party. Invite your friends over to swap books with your child throughout the summer. At each party, serve light, healthy snacks, but more importantly, swap books to create an opportunity for your child to read a variety of books and you not have to spend an excess of money.  

5. Encourage independent reading. Children tend to emulate what they see the adults in their life do. Be intentional about setting aside a time to have family reading or time for your child to read without interruption. Encourage the reading time by designating a space in your home that is specifically for reading. Participate in the reading time with your child by asking questions about his/her reading choice. Just in case your child is not yet an independent reader, be sure to read to your child every day and express how much you enjoy reading!

Summer is certainly not a time that your child should be losing information and academic knowledge. Instead, summer should be a time that your child gains a love for reading and learning. Make this season the time that you create an environment that books will be a requested event in lieu of vegging out in front of the television, video games and doing nothing. You can change how your child grows to love learning and recognize that learning can take place all year long, even without the school classroom.