Embrace the Summer Slip…and Slide!

You might think that as an educator, I would be very concerned with enrolling my kids in formal academic programs to fight the “summer slide.” Instead, we’re looking forward to weeks of chasing fireflies, swimming at the beach, and playing outside.

Summer slide, the learning loss that happens during the months school is out, is real–but the solution is summer fun, not summer school.

There are plenty of engaging, structured activities a kid can enjoy over the summer but also remember to leave children plenty of free time, too. Relax and let loose–just remember to be safe.

Children actually learn better, gain more deep and lasting knowledge, when they direct their own education. Summer is the perfect time to see this in action.

How do you keep your child’s reading level up over the summer? Let them leisurely browse the library shelves for books that catch their interest–even graphic novels and comic books, even books way below or above their reading level. Allow them to get lost for hours. Read to them, even if they are way past kindergarten. Read next to them. No logs, no reports, no required lists–just read. Children who find a passion for reading will naturally improve in comprehension and vocabulary.

How do you maintain mathematical and scientific knowledge without worksheets and labs? Let kids loose at a beach, on a nature trail, or at a children’s museum (or any museum if they are old enough not to touch the exhibits or knock over other patrons). At some point they will start wondering and questioning, sketching and building, experimenting and testing.

Allow children to be bored. Boredom is fertile ground for budding creativity.

Trust that learning is happening, even if you do not see it–and even if you cannot test it.

Remember, too, that everyone deserves a little “mindless” downtime. Let them binge some YouTube videos or play a few video games–they may even learn something about making healthy choices.

During the school year, most kids go from school, to activities, to homework, to bed. Between academic expectations and safety concerns, childhood is becoming a lost art. Running barefoot through the grass, riding another roller coaster, staying up past bedtime, savoring an extra scoop of ice cream, or watching a movie marathon do not need to be justified with a lesson plan and learning goals. Joy should be enough.


Candace Lindemann is the founder of Naturally Educational. She is a curriculum designer and educational writer who holds a B.A. from Yale University and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  She gained hands-on experience with students, teaching in the classroom at two of the highest rated high schools in the United States and volunteering with at-risk children.
*The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) or any Responsibility.org member.*