This is the typical response I receive from my kids when I announce we are going to do school work today – during school vacation. Yes, this summer I am making them review school work and read books so all the knowledge they learned last school year stays “fresh” in their minds.
Experts call it the “summer slide” and it applies to young minds that sit idle during the days of summer vacation. It usually is applied to reading. Studies have shown that kids who read during the summer gain in skills while those who don’t often slide backwards. This causes them to have to spend the first few months of the new school year being “refreshed” or “relearning” up to two months’ worth of knowledge.
Now as you may know from my other posts, Jase is already having problems with reading. He is not up to grade level, so I can’t afford for him to experience the “summer slide.” Lexie is a beginning reader, so she certainly needs practice too.
Every summer, we have participated in our public library’s summer reading program where the kids earn a free book for reading (or being read to if they were not yet reading). In fact, in the summer, we go to the library every two to three weeks to check out new books.
But I can see the summer slide happening in other areas besides just reading. I mean with three months of not practicing their writing, how is Lexie going to get better and stop reversing some of her numbers? She isn’t. In fact, her teacher actually sent home a work packet for her to complete during the summer. Of course, it is purely optional, and I suspect many parents tossed it when they received it or started it with good intentions at the beginning of summer only to forget about it later.
It is hard to find time in the summer to do school work. We are busy with vacations, summer lessons, summer camps, hours spent at the pool or at the zoo, museum or park. It is hard to decide to sit down and do some learning – no matter how fun you make it.
One previous summer, I had tried to have Jase practice some handwriting only to have those sessions drop off as the summer progressed. But this summer I was determined to do something different. So after our vacations and trips were over, I wrote a lesson plan for the next few weeks. We would work on Mondays and Thursdays for just thirty minutes. (It typically has taken us an hour each day.)
I picked three to four activities for each child to work on and tried to change it up, so they wouldn’t get bored. But one thing that has stayed the same is they must always read a book. (Lexie’s teacher also sent home 15 books that are at her reading level for her to read this summer.)
So for Jase, my focus has been on math, reading and writing. We have done word problems and flash cards. I have had him go over vocabulary words to strengthen his reading. And I have had him write sentences using those vocabulary words or just write about what we have been doing. Honestly, I think his handwriting needs a lot of work, but I don’t know exactly how to correct it.
As for Lexie, there is always reading but most of her time is spent doing the sheets her teacher sent home or ones that I find on the internet. Those sheets cover everything from math to reading and writing.
I know the kids complain each day that we do school work. But I think it will help them retain that information and be prepared when school start up again in August.