Parent, 3 Steps to Help Your Student Avoid the Summer Slide

As summer arrives, away melt the obligations of homework, strict regimentation of a school schedule and even packing lunches every day. Summer is about unstructured play with friends, swimming, going to camp, visiting the beach, and spending time with extended family. Sometimes, during this time to recharge, academic gains made over the course of a long and productive school year are lost.

Summer Slide is defined “In a comprehensive analysis published by the RAND Corporation, McCombs and colleagues (2011) note that elementary students’ performance falls by about a month during the summer, but the decline is far worse for lower-income students.”(Smith, 2012)

So what are three things you can do this summer to prevent Summer Slide?


Children should be reading all summer long. Reading is the most important skill that children develop in elementary school. In order to gain proficiency as readers, young readers must practice daily. The beauty of summer reading is that they can read whatever they choose.

  • Picture books
  • Fantasy novels
  • Realistic fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Biographies
  • Mysteries
  • Graphic novels
  • Manga
  • And a host of other selections

As parents we can make suggestions, but we should allow our kids to pick what interests them, and we should take note of what they like so that we can assist them in their selection process. We want our kids to be active and thoughtful readers so we are allowed to ask them questions about their books.

  • Who was their favorite character and why?
  • What predictions or theories do they have about the outcome of the story?
  • Do they know people who are like the characters they have read about?
  • If they did not like a book, have them tell you why.

That is an informative conversation waiting to happen. Books are great, and they often lead to great conversations, which extend the learning.

Make Math Fun

There are a “number” of things that parents can do to keep our young scholars thinking mathematically during the summer time, and it does not necessarily have to involve worksheets. Granted, there are plenty of kids and adults who love to crunch numbers in this way, but the summer allows us to be creative, and it helps kids to really hold onto the skills they have acquired if there is some practical application involved with their manipulation of numbers.

Reinforcing math fact fluency using

  • Flash cards
  • Apps
  • Math games

Practicing math facts

  • Calculate mileage during a summer trip
  • Calculate the tip for a meal out
  • Use math to help party planning
  • Keeping score during card games and board games
  • Talk about math stats during a baseball game

Write a letter to a loved one

Our students also need time to practice expressing their thoughts through writing. Your kids love it when they get mail. One way to practically guarantee that they actually get mail is if they write letters to their friends, grandparents, cousins, etc. Letters require time, thought, motivation, and they generate return mail, which kids love.

  • Write thank you notes regularly
  • Write an invitation for a play date or family event
  • Keep a journal while traveling this summer
  • Write a review about a summer blockbuster

Reading, mathematics, and writing are the keys to defeating summer slide. With some common sense, creativity, and consistency parents can find ways to keep their young scholars’ skills sharp, and they will be ready to hit the ground running come September.

Dr. Bryan Powell

Dr. Bryan Powell

With more than 25 years experience as an educator, Dr. Powell came to St. Paul’s in 2014. A thoughtful and experienced educational leader with extensive record of achievement as both a teacher and administrator, Powell is regarded as an outstanding role model for children, and a great listener who collaborates effectively with faculty and parents alike. He can be reached at

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