6 Easy Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide with Reading and Writing Activities

These simple strategies will prevent the valuable skills your child has learned from going to waste.
By Jodie Rodriguez
Apr 22, 2019

Ages

5-13

Boy and girl reading in park
iStock

Apr 22, 2019

Your kids have jettisoned their backpacks and alarm clocks — now, it's time for picnics, playgrounds, and popsicles! That being said, they've just spent the entire school year learning new skills, and you definitely don't want them to forget everything. The summer slide, or the loss of academic skills when school is out, is more real than you might expect: As a teacher, I would typically spend the first six weeks of a new school year reviewing skills and information that students had already been taught (and mostly forgot) from the grade before.

That's why I aim to avoid the summer brain drain with my own kids, and to make it a summer brain gain instead. It doesn't have to feel like homework! These six fun and simple ideas will help make reading and writing some of your kids' favorite summer activities.

1. Let Them Explore New Subjects

During the school year, kids are busy with assigned reading. Over the summer, encourage them to find books about subjects they love, or challenge them to explore a brand new genre. When we give children a choice, they feel in control and are more willing to pick up a book and read. And they enjoy it! Research from the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report shows that about six in 10 kids say they love or like reading books for fun a lot. (If this makes you think it's time to to bolster your home library, here are extraordinary reads for $5 or less!)  

Another great way for your child to dive into summer reading is with the Scholastic Read-a-Palooza Summer Reading Challenge, a free, educational program in which your kids can enter their reading minutes to unlock exclusive digital rewards and help donate books to kids in need. Check if your child's teacher, local librarian, or community partner organization (like a youth center) is partaking in the Challenge, so your child can participate as part of a group. If not, you can sign up your child individually! To see this year's list of recommended summer reading titles by age, click here and scroll down to "Resources" or browse selections at the Scholastic Store Online

2. Put Summer Workbooks to Good Use

It can be challenging to keep up with all of the skills your kids needs to practice for each specific grade in school. Luckily, the Weekly Reader: Summer Express Workbook series is designed to be a grab-and-go resource filled with daily literacy and math practice for a wide range of ages and grades. Kids will love tracking their accomplishments with the included stickers, and you'll appreciate that they're reinforcing their skills to prepare for a successful school year ahead!

3. Write Letters

Your kids can practice their handwriting, grammar, and vocabulary skills by writing letters to friends (nearby or away in camp), family members, or even their favorite authors. They might even get a letter back in the mail to read! Keep a stack of colored paper and stickers on hand to allow kids to create their own stationery. Add a few fun pens, and your kids will be eager to start writing. You can also offer them the opportunity to type letters and send them through email.

4. Enjoy Read-Alouds

The single most important thing we can do as parents to prevent the summer slide is read out loud to our kids daily. When we read to our kids, we are modeling fluent reading, building listening vocabulary, and showing that we value reading. Grab a book you loved as a child and read it to your kids this summer, or try great picks like Elephant & Piggie: Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Willems, Ranger in Time: Disaster on the Titantic (#9) by Kate Messner, or Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling.

5. Give Personalized Writing Prompts

A blank notebook can be a powerful learning and bonding tool for you and your kids. Take turns with your child writing back and forth in a journal. Start with a question such as, "What are you most looking forward to doing with the family this summer?" Your child then can have the rest of the day to write a response and leave it for you in a designated spot. Continue this back-and-forth journaling all summer to foster writing skills and creativity. Boost the excitement to write by using Klutz: Decorate This Journal

MORE: Dear Diary: Journal Style Fiction for School-Age Readers

6. Make Lists

This is one of the least overwhelming — and often fun! — writing tasks. Your kids can make a list of things they want to do each day, books they want to read over the summer, favorite TV shows right now, and so on. List-making encourages your kids' spelling and categorization skills as they brainstorm which words fit specific categories.

Connect with Jodie Rodriguez at Growing Book by Book.

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