Avoiding the Summer Slide

Silvia Fischer, a grandmother of two boys and a girl, fondly recalls planting summer gardens with her oldest grandson during his toddler and preschool years.

“Nathan has grown up to be very inquisitive, and I’d like to think that some of it had to do with the time we spent together planting seeds and picking the fruit off of my backyard trees during the summer,” said the San Gabriel resident. “We would talk about how plants can grow with water and sunlight, and then count the seeds. The whole time we were having fun playing in the dirt, he was learning about language, math and science.”

For many, summer plans are often filled with travel or taking time off to relax, but experts say this is a critical time in your child’s development to prevent the “summer slide.” According to the National Summer Learning Association, “all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.”

Whether your child is making the transition from preschool to kindergarten or from kindergarten to first grade, the best way to keep up the learning over the summer is by continuing to incorporate educational activities into your child’s day.

“All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.” – National Summer Learning Association

Los Angeles County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd said an easy way to make an enormous impact on your child’s social and emotional development is to make a commitment to read and play with them every day.

“Scientific study after study has proven that parents who play, read and sing with their children significantly increase their child’s brain development, which is critical to developing early reading skills,” said Todd. 

She recommends parents also look within their own communities, such as a parks and recreation program or taking a weekly trip to their local library, to find a variety of free and educational resources for families.

“Our free programs include performances from musicians, storytellers (and) magicians,” Todd continued. “Skilled librarians can recommend age appropriate books for children. One of the best things families can do to support summer learning is to take 20 minutes every night to read together.”

Todd cautions families against getting caught up in buying material objects or relying on computer games to help with their child’s summer learning activities.

“Flashcards and fancy electronic toys are not the best way to help with a child’s sustainable learning,” she noted. “The most important thing is that children spend time with their parents – no matter what the activity is. Take a walk in your neighborhood and explore your surroundings, make up silly stories together– just be together and have fun!”

Some Fun Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide and Create Year-long Learning Opportunities

From First 5 LA:

You are your child’s first and most valuable teacher. Here are a few tips to develop language, problem-solving, motor, social and emotional skills that prepare her or him to succeed in school.

From First 5 California:

First 5 California launched a campaign last year called “Talk Read Sing” to promote just these skills. Click here for tips.

From Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation:

From splash pads to swimming, playgrounds to trails, sports to crafting, your local park has plenty of activities tailored to teach kids fun, new skills and to appreciate nature. Click here to learn more.

From National Summer Learning Association:

Try using counting skills in daily activities and errands, such as counting the ingredients in a cake recipe. And since children often gain weight – which can lead to obesity – during the inactive summer months, try visiting a park for a walk that teaches youngsters about nature.

From Los Angeles County Librarian Margaret Donnellan Todd:

Make your own book! Help your child go through old magazines and cut out the pictures. Next, glue them onto paper, and then have your child tell you the story. It’s important to also write down their words and then read the book back to them. This activity will help build their language skills in a fun and simple way. To find a library in your neighborhood, click here.


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