Mama, have you heard about summer learning loss and what it means for your kids?
Summer learning loss, commonly called the summer slide, is the tendency for the majority of kids to forget some of what they learned during the school year during the summer months.
- 20% of what they learned in reading
- 27% of what they learned in math
from the previous school year.
And with many schools closing early this past school year due to the coronavirus pandemic, those numbers can be expected to be even higher during summer 2020.
While I’m all about carefree days to relax and play in the sunshine, I also think it’s important to provide our kids with the right summer bridge activities that can keep them learning and retaining over the summer.
Read on for easy ways to help your kids avoid the summer slide and keep learning over the break from school!
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Before we dive in, if you are thinking about homeschooling next year (or you think you might HAVE to homeschool!), check out my free homeschool schedule printable right here!
Summer Learning Activity #1: READ
One of the very best things we can do to help our kids with summer learning is to READ.
An alarming statistic from Scholastic revealed that the number of kids who read zero books over the summer rose from 15% in 2016 to 20% in 2018 across all age levels.
I love what Deimosa Webber-Bey, senior librarian at Scholastic says: “Summer presents an opportunity for families and communities to play an active role in ensuring all children can find their story and enjoy the benefits of summer reading.”
A really great fact is that it doesn’t really matter WHAT your kids read, as long as they do. So let them dive into Captain Underpants if they must. And take a sigh of relief because there’s absolutely no need to dig deep into Shakespeare at all (unless you really want to!)!
Here are some great ways to help your kids read more over the summer:
Reading aloud is a fantastic way to help our kids with their summer learning. Remember, you don’t have to read anything profound or even super literary. But it is important that it happens because it makes a big difference.
Here are some of my favorite picks for read aloud books by age:
What to read aloud for toddlers (ages 2-4)
Some of my very favorite read aloud books for toddlers are easiest to identify by author.
- Dr. Seuss. Some of our favorites are Fox in Socks, The Lorax, In a People House, and Hop on Pop. We love this great collection of his most famous stories all in one book!
- Eric Carle. He is most famous for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, but this book set here contains our very favorite story by him – The Mixed Up Chameleon.
- Corey Rosen Schwartz. She offers so many creative retellings of classic stories, such as The Three Ninja Pigs, Goldi Rocks and the Three Bears, Ninja Red Riding Hood, and more.
- Keiko Kasza. All of my kids have loved Badger’s Fancy Meal and My Lucky Day – and I love that both stories have a great moral to them as well!
What to read aloud for young kids (ages 4-6)
- The Dragon Masters series by Tracey West. My boys have especially loved this series about an 8-year-old boy who is chosen to be a dragon master in medieval times.
- The Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne. One of the most popular early chapter book series, The Magic Tree House books are awesome for introducing different time periods throughout history.
- Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows. This is a gigantic series about two girls who help save fairies of all colors, seasons, musical varieties, etc. It is easily broken down into smaller arcs of 7 books each.
- Mermaid Tales by Debbie Dadey. If you have a mermaid enthusiast at your house, this sweet series is all about 4 mermaid friends and their adventures.
What to read aloud for older kids (ages 7 and up)
If you have kids across a wide age span, go ahead and try some of these books for older kids. In my experience, it is easier to get the younger kids interested in something beyond their level than to get the older kids interested in something lower than their level.
Here’s a few that would be perfect summer reads:
- The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. Four orphaned and highly gifted kids are hand-picked to perform special missions and solve puzzles to defeat the enemy.
- Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. This is a fun, fast-paced series where the hero is always solving a puzzle to make it to the next stage of the game.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan. And old favorite, this series is centered on Greek mythology.
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling. Every best series list must include Harry Potter! While some of the later books in the series have been criticized for being too adult, we’ve read them successfully as a family twice.
- Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing series by Judy Blume. These books about a tween boy and his hilarious little brother have my kids LOLing all throughout the books.
- Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. The first book in the series won a Newbery Honor Medal. It is so action-packed, both boys and girls will love it.
- How to Train Your Dragon series by Cressida Cowell. While the movies are great, the books are even better! The characters are the same, but your kids will love reading Hiccup’s different book adventures for sure.
When to read aloud
You may already have a habit of reading to your kids before bed. If not, this is a great time to start! Once your kids are ready for bed, turn down the lights (or use a flashlight – they’ll think this is fun!) and read to them for as long as you’d like. Five to ten minutes, or even longer, is great!
If you are already reading to your kids at bedtime, you may consider adding another read-aloud session during the day throughout the summer.
After breakfast, we always gather together for a short family devotional and our beloved read-aloud time. Sometimes we sit outside on the patio, around our school desk, or curled up on the living room couches. Reading together in the morning gives us a good structure to beginning our summer days.
Another great way to avoid summer learning loss is lots of individual reading time! Any of the books I mentioned above would be great selections, but the age recommendations will vary greatly based on your kid’s individual reading skills and interests.
When to read individually
At our house we have quiet time everyday after lunch for one hour. This is a time when my kids are expected to be in their rooms either reading or playing quietly.
Quiet time has been a work in progress for us over the past few months. We started with the kids staying in their rooms for 20 minutes, then 30 minutes, then 45 minutes. My kids who can read spend the majority of quiet time curled up with their favorite book.
Reading incentive programs
It is always fun to find an incentive program for summer reading! In years’ past, our local library has hosted a summer reading program with calendars and prizes for completing so many books or hours of reading. My kids always loved checking off their books or minutes on their own charts.
If your local library doesn’t have a summer program, check to see if your kid’s school or a local business has a summer reading program already in place!
While reading is super essential to helping kids with summer learning, there is still a lot more that can be done! Keep reading to find out my favorite way to encourage summer learning for ALL subjects!
Summer Learning Activity #2: Workbooks
Purchasing a summer workbook for my kids every summer has always been one of the best investments in their summer learning!
Have you ever tried getting your kids to do a summer workbook? I honestly thought putting pencil to paper might bring some groans from my kids, but they didn’t complain at all about the Brain Quest workbooks!
Brain Quest Grade Level Workbooks
My very favorite workbooks are the Brain Quest grade level workbooks. They are top-notch and provide an excellent review of everything the kids were taught during the school year.
The Brain Quest workbooks are divided into 13 color-coded topics and come with a fun sticker page and educational poster in the back as well. You can check them out here:
- Brain Quest Pre-K
- Brain Quest Kindergarten
- Brain Quest Grade 1
- Brain Quest Grade 2
- Brain Quest Grade 3
- Brain Quest Grade 4
- Brain Quest Grade 5
- Brain Quest Grade 6
I recommend having your kids do a page or two in a few sections each day to really combat that summer learning loss.
If you’re concerned about whether you’ll be able to help your kids if they need it, don’t worry at all! Every page of the workbook has a small “Brain Box” section that explains each concept clearly. (To be honest, I’ve learned a thing or two from the Brain Boxes myself!) Also, all of the answers are included in the answer section at the back of the book.
Make it fun
Because these workbooks are quite extensive, we offer our kids a little incentive for finishing the whole thing cover to cover: an ice cream date and a small gift of their choosing.
It has been awesome to see my kids get to work with a goal in mind!
Prep for the next grade
Brain Quest also has some fantastic summer workbooks to help prepare kids for the upcoming school year.
These workbooks are even more fun than their grade-level counterparts! Each workbook features a pull-out poster with a fun “quest” where your kids collect stickers to place along a winding path as they finish different workbook pages.
The summer workbooks also include outdoor learning activities, such as drawing and practicing fractions with sidewalk chalk or jumping rope while rhyming.
Here are the links for the summer Brain Quest workbooks for you to check out. Just choose the workbook that has the grades your child is currently in between!
- Summer Brain Quest PreK-K
- Summer Brain Quest K-1
- Summer Brain Quest 1-2
- Summer Brain Quest 2-3
- Summer Brain Quest 3-4
- Summer Brain Quest 4-5
- Summer Brain Quest 5-6
If your kids have a specific passion or interest, you could certainly look for a more targeted workbook that might excite them!
My 6-year-old son who loves numbers is having a fantastic time with this soduku book for kids. He is so excited that he’s already at “apprentice” level in the book!
My daughter who is really into Harry Potter loves this cursive handwriting book that has her practicing all the Harry Potter character names, spells, and magical words in cursive.
If your child enjoys Minecraft, check out this workbook that focuses on having Minecraft type adventures in multiplication and division!
Or if you have a younger kid who loves all things Disney princess, this princess alphabet tracing workbook is sure to be a hit too!
Summer Learning Activity #3: Experience learning
A fantastic way to help your kids with summer learning is by providing lots of educational experiences! There are many events and venues that can be educational – especially in areas of science, math and social studies.
If you are looking for fun summer activities to do at home with your kids, try a simple science kit! There are lots of great options available.
Here are a few we’ve had awesome success with:
- Crystal Growing Science Experiment. The crystals were so pretty and turned out exactly as we hoped!
- Green Science Solar Rover. Thanks to the good Texas sun, our car actually worked.
- The Magic School Bus Soaring into Flight kit. This is perfect for any young airplane enthusiast!
- The Magic School Bus Journey Into the Human Body kit. This was a really fun kit – even my older kids liked created an artificial lung and their own homemade stethoscope!
- Electronic Snap Circuits board. This has brought hours of enjoyment and learning for my kids as they’ve worked through every task in the experiment book.
Whether you’re planning to stay home or venture out and about, there are many opportunities for learning experiences all around us.
Here’s a quick list of summer learning experience ideas:
- fly kites or blow bubbles and learn about birds, flight, clouds, or the sun
- go swimming and discuss the three states of matter, the water cycle, or the ocean
- visit a zoo or aquarium and learn about an animal or two
- bake a treat together and talk about nutrition, or chemical and physical changes
- go camping and learn about fire, the stars and constellations
- visit any museum (history, science, art, etc!) and read the guidebook together at home
- watch 4th of July fireworks and learn about fire, the night sky, or the American Revolution
Final thoughts on summer learning
Helping our kids avoid the summer slide is so important! And it really can be quite easy.
Finding time to read aloud, encouraging individual reading, pulling out a workbook a few times a week, and finding learning experiences around you will help your kids show up for next school year with a huge advantage.