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Fun Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide
Studies have proven that children lose some of what they've learned during the school year over the summer months. It's not your imagination- it's true! During summer break, kids in grade school can lose much of the gains they've made over the school year in reading and math. The numbers are worse for older kids, and those losses accumulate every year.
This effect is called the "Summer Slide" or "Summer Brain Drain." While your children are enjoying their free time, they're also, unfortunately, setting their education back.
Luckily, there are ways to negate the impact of Summer Brain Drain without sacrificing the "fun" of summer break. In fact (don't tell the kids!), there are plenty of opportunities to have a great time learning.
To combat the summer slide in reading, many schools have required reading assignments over break, usually a book or two, or a handful, that the student is expected to create a report for or be prepared to be tested on. However while this approach is better than nothing, the promise of what amounts to summer break homework doesn't often create enthusiasm around reading. To help nurture a love of the task, try these suggestions!
Five Finger Test
Before your kid starts to tackle any book this summer, one of the most important things to do is ensure that the book is at an appropriate reading level. While it can be good to "challenge" a young reader with a tough book, it can also be a real motivation-killer if they're struggling to get through it. Use this fun, five-finger test to help decide if a book is right!
Make it a Contest
If the amount of time kids spend playing video games or apps on their phones is any indication: they love a contest. The summer book reports they'll have due when school starts may be an incentive, but certainly aren't as engaging and fun as a game could be. From challenges based on popular TV shows to Mensa Foundation memberships, this list has some great ideas on how to spice up summer reading.
Go Beyond the Book
Some of the primary benefits of reading voraciously is that it expands vocabulary and an understanding of complex ideas. And for these, your children don't necessarily need to read in the traditional sense. Taking in a play based on classic Greek literature can often be a lot more interesting than reading the stage directions and listening to an audiobook, with each character voiced differently and sound effects, is more engaging than dry words on paper.
According to a study from Harvard University, students lose more than 2.5 months of math skills over the summer break. Which means that teachers must spend weeks at the beginning of the new school year re-teaching what has been lost from the previous one. Whether or not your child dreams of being a mathematician when they grow up, ability in the subject plays a critical role throughout life - from budgeting for a household to telling time.
Math in the Kitchen
As anyone who has ever tried their hand at cooking or baking could tell you, there are a lot of fractions, addition, subtraction and time-telling involved in the creation of a successful dish. Putting math to use in the kitchen is one of the sneakiest, most enjoyable ways to get your kids thinking mathematically this summer without it feeling like a times-table test. If you don't want to sacrifice your own clean counters to their experiments, Tokyo has a few cooking schools that cater to young chefs.
Board Games for Boring Days
Mid-way through the summer, you're still staring down several more weeks of temperamental weather in Tokyo. Fortunately, one of the staples of indoor entertainment - the board game- is also a simple way to incorporate mathematical concepts into a rainy day. From Monopoly's pricey real estate lessons to Game of Life's lessons on...well, life, there are tons of options you can play with the kids that won't make it obvious they're learning. This list has a few more suggestions for math games over the summer.
A Peek into Adulthood
One of the most common refrains we remember from our math classes: "When will we even use this stuff in real life?"
And while you might not often need to identify the third angle in an isosceles triangle, as adults we can all agree math is far more important in our lives than we gave it credit for when we were thirteen. Take your kids with you on household errands; have them help calculate the bill or balance your checking account after a day of shopping. For the younger set, a fun day of full-on adulthood can be found at Kidzania, where they can learn about bank transactions or even take on the role of a teller.
While there is always the option of summer school or a tutor to make up for the gap in learning while on break, making education fun and engaging is an important step in creating life-long learners and discouraging the Summer Slide.
Many of CareFinder's sitters have also worked as teachers, making them ideal stewards of these activities this summer. Visit the Babysitter Search page to find the best sitter for your family today!