How to avoid the academic summer slide

By Lisa LaGrou

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DETROIT - School has changed in more ways than one since I was a child. There seems to be a greater amount of teacher's assistants helping in the classrooms, allowing for students' needs to be met more easily. In addition, the pace and amount of activity in the elementary classroom alone is increased to the point of teachers operating as "Cruise Directors." Teachers run a tight ship and keep a breakneck pace to the average school day. These changes have parents behind the eight ball if they're looking to keep up the same pace of activity during the summer months. Parents are even more concerned with how they will provide continuing education for their kids during the summer, and how they will avoid the academic summer slide.


Most children will benefit from exposure to educational activities to help maintain their skills and get them started on the right foot come fall. So, I spoke directly with a teacher in the Rochester Community School District to get some input on the subject and give parents some guidance this summer.

Here's the Q&A:

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Oakland County Moms: How much time do you recommend that children invest into "summertime education" on a daily basis, and does it vary by grade level?

Rochester Community Schools Teacher: I recommend that children in K-6 spend an hour on education daily, and children in grades 7-12 can do 2 hours. With that said, it very easy to fulfill this time with reading, writing, computer games, board games, card games and more.  

Oakland County Moms: What are the suggested educational activities kids should work on during the summer break to best give them support come fall?

Rochester Community Schools Teacher: During summer vacation, kids should be reading, writing and practicing math skills daily.  Again, this is easy to achieve if parents are good at "hiding" it. 

What I mean by this is that parents can make a trip to the grocery store educational. Students can practice making and giving change. They can practice addition and subtraction math facts, story problems, counting coins/money, etc. Parents can make a trip to the park a writing adventure. Kids can write imaginative, creative stories about the park… for example the Duck Monster or the Park Bear, etc. Parents can make trips in the car educational by practicing telling time and elapsed time. The trip should take twenty minutes. If we leave at 3:15, what time will we arrive? If you get stuck at a traffic light, have kids watch the clock and add that on to the total time.

Take a trip to the library weekly. Have your child choose their own books to read. Make a goal on how many minutes or how many books or pages they can read. Chart their reading on a bar graph or sticker chart, or even join your local library's summer reading program. And, celebrate when the goal is reached.

Have your child experience writing daily. Give your child a special journal to write their stories in. They can be detectives and answer questions they always wondered about. How does a bird build a nest? What time do frogs really begin to talk? In these journals, you can have them choose one thing a day to write about. If they write five sentences about going to the zoo... excellent! Or, have them keep a summer time diary that they can look back at in the years to come.

Play board games/card games with your child. Again, the education component is hidden. You can make a math lesson out of Monopoly or a reading lesson out of any games with the directions. Exercise their brains with games like SET (a card game of quick recognition and deduction) or Quiddler (a card game that teaches vocabulary)…

Oakland County Moms: What advice do you have for parents to keep the kids motivated and excited about doing educational activities in the midst of summertime fun?

Rochester Community Schools Teacher: Little kids get excited a lot easier. They can make a trip to the park educational. Bring a book and have a picnic and read under a tree. With the reading, chart their summer reading and celebrate.

Most high school and middle school students will be motivated by celebrating and receiving rewards. If your child writes a story, she can have movie night with her friends. If they read 400 minutes over the summer, they can have a sleepover, etc. Rewards are key.

OCM also suggests playdate/group learning. If you're in a neighborhood where there are several children, try working out a summer learning plan with the other families. For example, each day the kids can rotate from house to house. House 1 is for math games, House 2 is for the book club, etc. There are many online resources with game ideas, printable worksheets, quizzes and more. The kids enjoy this option because they are doing it with their friends. And, it can be very helpful for the parents to have one subject to focus on, instead of trying to manage all of them, meanwhile sharing the workload with other families.

About the author:

Lisa LaGrou is the founder of She and her team work to present quality content to their readers. Lisa likes to provide information and options for families about a myriad of topics without preaching or condoning. If she experiences something, she want to share it. If she doesn't know about something, she tries to find information to share. She's delighted when people contact her with suggestions about content and resources. For more information on how to become a member of Oakland County Moms click HERE.

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