My boys all made tremendous progress in school this past year. I was one proud mama.
But now it’s summer and often the dreaded summer slide comes into play, where kids lose some of what they learned the previous year. More on the summer slide: “Teachers spend the first 6-8 weeks of the new school year – roughly 22% of the entire year – re-teaching forgotten information instead of teaching new skills.” via Sylvan Learning.
I want to avoid the summer slide as much as possible with my boys, so we added some school activities to our daily routine.
For reference: my oldest is going into third grade, middle into first, and youngest into kindergarten prep(aka, the last year of preschool).
I am absolutely in love with this program. It’s for preschool-grade 3 and works on your child’s reading and writing skills. I wrote a Reading Kingdom review a while back if you want more info. They have a 30 day free trial if you want to check it out yourself. (Note: two of my boys participate for free, thanks to Reading Kingdom– and I added my third under their paid options because I love it so much). It’s recommended that this is done about 5x/week. We do it almost daily.
Summer Express by Scholastic
These summer workbooks are designed to bridge your child from one grade to the next. While there are many of this type out there, I’ve been a big fan of Scholastic since my teaching days, so I went with this set and they haven’t let me down. Along with worksheets labeled by the week/day, there are other suggestions for activities you can do with your child and a reading list, as well. These are meant to be done 5 days a week- they only take a few minutes each day. These cover a variety of subjects. I bought these in Barnes and Noble, but I’ve seen them on Amazon as well.
Sight Word Practice
There are so many fun sight words games out there that you can play(I have many pinned to my school board on Pinterest). While we’ve tried some, we do flashcard practice more often than not. Simply because this is the format that my soon-to-be first grader is tested on these words.
In with the back-to-school supplies at Walmart, I found a few Scholastic games and bought a sight words game, a word families game, and a blend sounds game. Each was about $4. We’ve been playing these as well.
Obviously, we talk to our kids. But we easily fall into routines and if I didn’t make a point to ask a question designed to make them think, they might only talk to me about Minecraft and wanting to go swimming. So we use a list to help guide us: Free Language Development Printable
Sometimes my boys answer these questions orally and other times they journal them. During this time, we also focus on making the correct speech sounds. I don’t correct every time one of my boys mispronounces a th, v, or l word(the ones that give them difficulty), but during their language practice, I will.
Much to my chagrin, my boys hate writing. Hands down their weakest area. They get writing practice with the workbooks, Reading Kingdom(even though it’s typing, it’s still writing), and with some of the language practice on the days I have them write instead of orally answer. I also have lined dry erase white boards for them to practice on as well(found in the school supply section of big box/office supply stores).
However, they do some journaling as well. My oldest most often writes what he did that day or what he wishes he could do. My middle needs a little more guidance. His kindergarten teacher had suggested using “I” statements. I am, I do, I want, I wish, I will, etc. and have him complete those.
My boys love math- it’s their strongest area, so we have focused more on reading and writing this summer, but didn’t want to ignore math completely. Here again, we use flashcards(I like to buy these since they can be found for $1-2 in big box/office supply/dollar stores). I change it up a bit by sometimes pitting my older two against each other in a race to see who can come up with the answer the fastest. Other times, I set a timer and see how many facts each can get correct in a set amount of time(usually just a minute or two) and then they see if they can beat their personal best. Knowing their basic math facts helps to make more complex math so much easier. We also play the Math Gumball Game from Scholastic pictured with the word games above and there is math work in the Summer Express workbooks.
Read to your kids, have them read to you- READ, READ, READ! I put this last but it’s probably the most important. Visit the library and let your child pick out a few books that look interesting. My boys get Highlights Magazine every month, read books on the Scholastic Storia App, and download books on Kindle as well.
If your kids take AR (Accelerated Reader) tests at school, you can have them take similar tests by using the Book Adventure site (which is a free resource from Sylvan Learning). We use this during the school year- my oldest takes a test on Book Adventure at home before he takes the AR test at school- his AR test scores have gone up! But it’s a good idea to keep up the habit during the summer. Book Adventure also has a tool that allows you to find books based on reading level and area of interest. They have a suggested Summer Reading List, too, listed by grade level.
Keeping track of our summer activities
We do not do every single one of these activities every day. But we do at least a few every day. But I figure if they are in school for 4-7 hours 5 days a week, taking an hour or so out of their summer day to help stop the summer slide isn’t really all that much. Especially when it’s not an hour straight. My youngest does less than the other two on most days but since he still has a full year until he goes to kindergarten, I’m happy with him doing around two activities a day.
To keep track of which activities my boys are doing, we use the iReward Chart app and add stars when they finish each(along with their chores and other tasks we set for them). With three boys and all these different activities, I’d never remember who did what if I didn’t have some way to keep track.
What do you do with your kids to avoid the summer slide?
*All brands and products mentioned in this post are here because this is what we use. Despite what it looks like, this post is NOT sponsored by Scholastic- I just love them and use multiple products of theirs. Reading Kingdom did provide my older two boys a free subscription for a few months so that we could try it. I was given a free code to download the iReward Chart app.