Skip the Summer Slide with These 5 Tips

Summer is here! That means a time of rest, relaxation, being outside — and lots of fun. The last thing on the minds of most kids is school . . . or anything academic. Meanwhile, many parents and teachers worry about the summer slide.

The “summer slide” is a decline in reading ability and other skills while school is out. Now, don’t panic. I am not suggesting you need to enroll your child in summer school. As a mom, and a teacher, I have a few tips that work well in our house to keep kids on track and avoid the infamous summer slide.

Books: how to avoid the summer slide

Skip the Summer Slide with These 5 Tips

Keep A Schedule

If your kids are anything like mine, they thrive on routine. When we are not in school, that schedule is more relaxed. As my kids age, they want to have more screen time. Before that is allowed, they need to complete their daily check-list.

A few years ago I was perusing Pinterest for summer routine ideas and I came across this sample schedule. It is great because it is basic. It also takes more than just ten minutes to complete. We place our schedule in a plastic slip cover so we can cross out items on the list with dry-erase marker. Obviously, with summer time, the schedule is much more forgiving, but having a plan in place has been helpful. 

Read (a lot!)

Reading is one of the best activities kids can do in the summer. This not only keeps their skills sharp, but it also encourages fluency and comprehension — which are essential in reading. In our house, we subscribe to Highlights magazine. There are great stories of varying topics in those. We also sign-up for summer reading programs at all of the libraries. This encourages our kids to set a goal and hopefully meet and exceed it. We take frequent trips to local libraries to browse and borrow new books.

When you go to the library, encourage your kids to ask the library staff for suggestions. This encourages them to take ownership of their reading. If your child does not want to read-out-loud, or struggles to do so, you can read aloud to them. All kids, no matter what age, benefit from being read to. So, practice your best voices and and read-out-loud to your kiddos! Simply reading 20 minutes every day can have huge benefits for your child.

Math Facts

Math is another subject that can regress in the summer. One way you can avoid this is by purchasing summer review books. There are a variety of workbooks out there that will cover major subject areas. The books typically have eye-catching and fun math pages. These activities help maintain math fluency. If summer workbooks are not your jam, you can simply do a variety of exercises to practice math facts and fluency — like flashcards, games, and even apps. In our house, we use a variety of these options on a daily basis.

One of our favorite apps is Prodigy, a quest style game. You advance along the journey by completing math problems. There is a free version of the game, which works well. Prodigy can be played on a computer or tablet. Additionally, there are many other apps out there that can help refine math skills.  


Consider taking kids on day trips or experiences that encourage them to use creativity and critical thinking skills. These do not have to be anything elaborate or expensive. There are many awesome places around the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area that can provide fun, new, and different experiences — like indoor play spaces, local parks, and hiking trails. Local libraries also offer programs during the summer that are educational and fun!

Travel Activities

If you plan to travel this summer, bring activities that exercise  creative thinking skills — like activity books,  brain teasers, and road trip car games. I have been collecting travel activities for my kids to do in our vehicle for an upcoming trip. My goal is to avoid using screens for the entire travel time. 

Summer is a time of fun, exploration, and relaxation. I personally feel we can have a great summer with a little bit of academic time built into each day. It does not have to be a lot, but whatever we can do to keep our kids’ minds sharp will benefit our kids when fall comes along. Enjoy these summer days of learning, exploring, and growing! 

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Brenda is an Iowa native who has lived in the Iowa City area since 2005. She is married to her love, Robert, since 2012. Brenda is an elementary teacher by trade. She spent almost nine years as a stay at home parent but is now back in the classroom spending time with her school kids and being a mom to her own kids. She is the mom of three; Gabe (April, 2013) Maggie (April, 2015), and Julianna (September, 2017). Brenda enjoys being active by running and working out. She also enjoys trying new recipes, volunteering, playing board and card games, and being involved in church. Brenda is an elementary teacher and loves cheering on the Cubs, UNI Panthers, and the Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a busy but beautiful life!


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