As a former teacher, I know parents want to prevent the Summer slide in their elementary aged students. They’ll purchase workbooks, hire tutors, and mandate reading time. Unfortunately, all that does is often make their children hate learning. Spoiler alert: teachers don’t want that! So today I want to share with parents some ideas that are simple to enforce, won’t cause tears, and will help prevent that dreaded Summer slide so many of us fear!

1) Read!

If I can suggest just one thing, it’d be to read. But not in the “collect stickers to earn a free pizza from Pizza Hut” type of way… really authentically read. Go to your local library as a family and each choose 5 books you want to read. (Yes, even you, parents!) Then go home and read them. Make sure your child always has a new book to read and if they get bored with the one they’re reading, don’t make them finish it! Make reading fun and work it into your lifestyle. If they see you take a book with you to the doctor, they’ll want a book too! And remember – books on tape count as well. Car rides make great “reading” time.

2) Write!

Again, don’t write in the “I want you to write 5 pages every day” type of way – but show your kids how to create a journal. Write down things around them. Write fun stories they want to remember. Tape pictures into their journal. Do whatever they want with it! If you can model this, even better! Make writing fun (and have zero rules about what’s “right”) and your kid will write. I SWEAR.

kids playing outdoors

3) Play!

Did you know that playing is SO stinking beneficial for kiddos? Especially younger ones. It allows them to use their imagination, share their experiences with other kids, and think through different scenarios. It’s the beginning of STEM! Let them make, create, and just play. It’s WAY better than a worksheet any day.

Family saving money to piggy bank

4) Budget

Want to teach some real world skills? Give your kids an allowance and make them put it to work! Put them in charge of their lunches all week and plan them out and budget them. Make them save up for that family trip to the zoo. Make older kids put a percentage into savings (see how this can benefit all ages?). Don’t be afraid to discuss money with your children! It will help strengthen their math (and life!) skills.

Little girl counts his coins on a table, Select focus at coins

5) Count

Count things, group things, and skip count! For example, use nickels to count out $3.00 to help children practice skip counting by 5’s. This is also great for older kids. They can skip count by 11 or 12 (helllllo multiples!). Have them notice patterns and discuss how they know which number comes next. Do they use a trick? Addition? This can be done quickly and in passing throughout the day… it doesn’t need to be a “lesson.” Do it frequently and make it a fun game to make it authentic. Make sure you join in!

6) Limit screen time

I know how easy it can be to put a tv show on or drop an ipad in front of your kiddos but there is a growing epidemic right now and it needs to stop. Kids no longer know how to “be bored.” They need to learn ways to entertain themselves and you cannot solve this for them. So by removing screen time, you’re forcing kids to be problem solvers… and THAT is such an important lesson.

Happy, smiling child holding collection of shells at the beach

7) Start a collection

Encourage your child to start a collection. Whether it’s rocks, stamps, leaves, etc. doesn’t matter. Once they start a collection, help them find a way to organize it, classify each item, and let your child research how to find more of that item. Make it a Summer project or an ongoing project but make sure they’re leading the charge – not you! If they mess up, it’s okay! They need to learn on their own.

closeup portrait of cute kids with magnifying glass outdoors

8) Research

Kids ask the weirdest things… next time that happens and you don’t know the answer (or you want them to figure it out themselves), say, “Hmmmm, great question. Let’s look into that!” Gather some resources for them (library books, amazon books, documentaries, informative Youtube videos, Podcasts, articles printed out, etc.) and let them research it on their own. Ask them lots of questions about it at dinner or during your ride to daycare. Encourage them to learn more (if they’re interested in it) and don’t force it if they get bored. Research for fun is an awesome way to keep learning over the Summer!

9) Get persuasive

Do your children keep begging you to go to the zoo or the water park? I don’t blame them – but maybe make them work for it. Say something like, “Hmmm… I don’t know. Why should we do that? I want you to pull together some reasons you would like to do that and why you think it would benefit the whole family and write me a letter/ create a PowerPoint/ make a poster convincing me.” My Dad made me do this when I wanted a cell phone in high school and I was so convincing, I got one! It’s great presentation practice and makes children think about how to sell themselves, a great business skill.

Birdwatchers boy and girl sitting on a wooden pier by a summer lake observing birds

10) Observe things around you

Do you do something the same every day? Maybe drive through your neighborhood or go on a walk? See if you can notice any changes every day. Make it a game. Ask your children, “Let’s see if anything has changed since yesterday.” Instead of playing on phones or watching a movie, make your kiddos look around and observe their world. This can go a long way in brain development.

Child in pajamas relaxing on a window sill with pet. Lazy weekend with cat at home. Cozy scene, hygge concept.

11) Host a “Coffee House”

Turn your home into “Starbucks” on really hot or rainy days. I first saw this idea on Instagram from @MiddleSchoolFrolics and fell in love. Tell your kids they can do whatever they want (read/write/draw/playdough/build) but they need to treat it like they’re “sitting and working” at Starbucks. Let them wear headphones and listen to their own music, sit wherever they want, and remind them “it’s Starbucks, so we’re all strangers here. Don’t be the weird guy who talks to strangers.” This is a fun twist that makes it more enjoyable to sit and read or write! Serve “coffee” (aka hot chocolate or tea) and yummy snacks.

12) Institute quiet time

You deserve it and they need it! In order to rest their brains, children need some down time. Institute an hour of quiet time every afternoon. It can look however best works for you – but encourage them to go to their rooms (or somewhere low key) and enjoy some individual time. I love how Emily Ley does this. Her kids all go to their rooms, tell Alexa to set an hour timer, and then their feet may not touch the floor. They can read or play in bed, but they must stay there for an hour. This reflection and rest time makes a huge difference. Brains develop and grow with rest – don’t let this opportunity pass you up!

So how will you keep your kiddo going this Summer? What activities do you already do? Let me know below! I can’t wait to hear.

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