8 Fun Activities to Help Prevent the Dreaded Summer Slide in Kids
Education experts share how parents can stop their kids’ summer learning loss
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4. Play games together as a family.
The boom in tabletop gaming means there’s a game for every skill you wish to cultivate in your child. But your kids will be having too much fun to realize they’re actually learning. In Scotland Yard (suitable for kids 8 and older), for example, players use logic and critical thinking to find a criminal’s London location. Weird But True—based on the beloved book series by National Geographic—requires players (ages 8 and older) to consider whether a wacky factoid is true or false. The uber-popular Wingspan teaches players (ages 14 and older) about birds, ecology, and biology.
5. Sign up for a subscription box or two.
Subscription boxes give you the chance to experience the world without leaving your house. The day our Universal Yums subscription snack box arrives is one of the happiest in my household. My son and I make predictions about that month’s country, then we enjoy reading about the fun facts (and ranking the snacks) in the colorful, fun booklet that accompanies the treats. Sometimes we draw maps. Sometimes we talk about history or politics. No matter what, we eat all the candy. Whatever your child's passion—from food and crafts to STEAM—you can find a subscription box that's perfect for them.
6. Watch educational and entertaining videos online.
Is your kid a budding coder? Mixed media artist? Cat lover? Regardless of your child’s interest, there’s a class for that. The pandemic has seen a boom in online learning, with options ranging from a short, one-off class to a multi-week deep-dive. Outschool has tons of video-based classes for kids age 3-18, including math practice, geography, and chess, and social clubs, too.
7. Join, or extend, a Learning Pod with other kids in the neighborhood.
When COVID shut down in-person learning, many parents formed learning pods—small groups led by a teacher or tutor. If you already have one from the academic year, consider extending it through the summer, perhaps with some extra sports or crafts thrown in.
If not, consider finding a few like-minded families to form a learning pod. Establish your expectations (frequency of meeting, topics discussed, amount of work to be done, masks on or off). The pod’s facilitator could be a recent high school or college graduate, or perhaps a teacher on summer break. How much to pay this person depends on several factors, but you should be realistic about what you’re asking the person and the kids to do.
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8. Set realistic goals and celebrate your kids’ achievements.
Set actionable, realistic goals, then celebrate them. Maybe you want your soon-to-be third-grader to read five books over the summer. Set up a chart, add some stickers, and break the big goal (five books) into smaller goals (one chapter every week). Every two chapters gets an ice cream. The right incentive can help motivate.
Above all, make it fun. It is summer, after all.
Even More Fun, Educational Ideas from Kids
I asked my son’s first-grade classmates for suggestions about ways to grow their brains during the summer. Here’s what they said:
- Write for fun
- Do workbooks
- Keep a journal or diary of all the fun things you do
- Cool your brain by going swimming
- Eat a lot of good stuff
- Go to summer camp
- Have a sleepover on the Intrepid