The Parish School Blog

Activities to Help Prevent the Summer Slide

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Parents and children all have the same dream – to spend their summer days having fun without the stress and pressure of the school year. However, many parents also worry that too much fun could cause the dreaded “summer slide.” Luckily, there are many ways to have fun while still preparing for the school year ahead.

  1. Check your local library for summer reading programs.
    The Houston Public Library has a reading program for kids of all ages. As they achieve their reading goals, they can also earn prizes.
    • Once you have library books, schedule a time to read each day – maybe first thing in the morning, after lunch for a “quiet time,” or during snack each afternoon. Making it routine helps ensure it fits into the daily schedule.
    • Public libraries often have free educational activities throughout the summer for all ages. These may include storytime, crafts or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) events.

  2. Start a summer journal.
    Depending on the child’s level, they can write a sentence or a paragraph about each day. Even young children can participate by dictating their ideas to you. Older children can practice their typing skills by having their journal in a Word or Google doc. Add interest and spark ideas by having your child draw their own pictures or add photos taken with a camera.
    • An alternative could be to send weekly postcards, letters or emails to out-of-town family members describing your children’s favorite activity.
    • If your family is traveling, make a keepsake book of memories and pictures from the trip or special activity.

  3. Cook or bake with your child.
    This is a fun way to incorporate multiple skills, including math, reading and following multi-step directions. Don’t worry, cooking with your child doesn’t have to be a large undertaking. It can be as simple as having them cut and wash vegetables once a week while you prepare dinner.
    • If your child already enjoys cooking or you’re looking for a more engaging project, have them host their own cooking show! They can pick an ingredient, plan a recipe, explain the steps, and describe the food while you record it.
    • Houston has many farmers' markets and large grocery stores where you can try new and fresh ingredients. While there, give your child their own grocery list to follow. Older kids can keep track of the budget for a few items.

  4. Turn screen time into an interactive experience.
    Can’t get your kids away from their favorite TV show or movie? Then use their interest to build language and understanding of narratives.
    • Co-viewing television shows and movies can be great for discussing aspects of story development. Ask questions about what could happen next, how the characters are feeling or what they could be thinking. Discuss the setting and how it impacts the story – would the story be the same if this happened in winter/on a farm/during the night? You can also ask your child what they would do if they were the main character.
    • Have your child act out their favorite show. They can make up their own storyline, create costumes, write scripts, and video it.

  5. Take advantage of Houston’s numerous parks, museums and outdoor activities.
    Children build vocabulary and world knowledge through real-life experiences.
    • You can spark a child’s interest in nocturnal animals with a visit to the Waugh Street Bat colony, discuss architecture at the Friendswood Fairy garden, or simply explore a new-to-you park and see what you find.
    • A trip to the Natural Science Museum may lead to discussions of dinosaurs, mummies or geodes!

  6. Let them get bored!
    Having downtime for free play and an opportunity to feel bored can spark new and creative ideas. Summer is a time to relax and have fun, so between camps, trips, swim lessons and activities, be sure to schedule some free time each day.

    Set up an area of your home or backyard for children to be free to make, destroy and re-create, like a maker’s space, Lego lab, art studio or mud kitchen. When they feel bored, send them to that area to get creative!

Hopefully, these tips inspire you to mix some fun learning experiences into your summer plans to sharpen your children’s skills without relying too much on workbooks or flashcards.