By: Gretchen Averette
It’s hard to believe that we are about halfway through summer break for the traditional academic calendar. By this point, you may have a beach trip, a national park visit, pool days, and a few cook-outs checked off your list. It is refreshing to have a season of rest and allow ourselves to take a break from the heavy commitments of the school year.
Even with all that summer has to offer, the kids in your house may have begun to mutter “I’m bored.” While those words may be annoying to every parent’s ear, they are a good reminder that routine is healthy and summer slump is real.
What is summer slump? During an extended academic break, such as summer, the average student regresses and can lose up to a month of academic proficiency. Much akin to Newton’s law of motion, an active mind stays active and a mind at rest will stagnate over time. Younger children are particularly at risk of losing foundational skills of reading and math during learning breaks.
How can we balance rest and routine? Summer days don’t necessarily need to be a homeschool version of the school year. It is important to create enough space that the upcoming school year will be a new and exciting change from summer break. However, an intentional routine can be a great way to strike a balance between over-structured days and the pitfall of summer laziness. If having a daily routine seems too structured, set weekly goals. These goals could include reading a certain number of pages or chapters, completing a summer bridge activity unit, or practicing a set of math facts or equations.
Summer often means families are having much more togetherness time. This can be delightful, but having a designated quiet “me” time is healthy for everyone. It gives individuals time to rest, reset and dive into a good book. For elementary age kids and older, 30-60 minutes is practical. Younger kids can do the same amount of time, but quiet play should be allowed. After the quiet time, siblings are often excited to reengage and parents are refreshed.
What are some practical ways to maintain academic interest? Maintaining academics doesn’t have to be boring. Turn road trips into academic adventures, museums into information treasure hunts, and cooking into math and science lessons:
Create a bucket list of educational experiences for the summer
Practice math facts using online games and resources
Start a book club with peers
Earn free screen time with academic screen time
Keep a summer journal to improve writing skills
Listen to audiobooks (local libraries are a great resource for free audiobooks)
At the pool, practice math facts or states/capitals as they jump off the diving board
Join a structured reading program at a local library
The good news is that when students stay academically engaged throughout the summer they not only maintain skills, but improve their knowledge base. They enter the next academic year with alert, active brains, and quite possibly further along than where they left off!