Fight the Summer Slide Through Parent Engagement

Kids spend nearly a year refining their knowledge and skills in the classroom to learn, grow, and prepare themselves for the real world! Unfortunately, parents across America are grappling with an ongoing challenge when school gets out: the “summer slide.” This term refers to the learning loss students experience during the summer break when they aren’t engaged in educational activities (Waterford, 2020). The summer slide can result in a noticeable decline in reading and math skills, with some children losing up to two months of academic progress made during the previous school year.

But there is a remarkable difference between parents who step up to the challenge and keep their children academically engaged and those who do not.

The Long-Term Effects of the Summer Slide

Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” is a period of academic regression that occurs during the summer break. This phenomenon significantly impacts the academic performance gap between advantaged and disadvantaged kids. During this time, students tend to forget some of what they learned during the school year, and children from at-risk backgrounds are particularly vulnerable since they often lack access to educational resources when school is out (Quinn, 2023).

Research has shown that on average, students’ achievement scores decline over the summer by about one month’s worth of school-year learning. These declines are typically more pronounced in math than in reading, and the extent of the loss tends to be greater at higher grade levels. This underscores the importance of engaging children in educational activities during the summer to help bridge this gap and maintain their academic progress (McEachin, 2024).

The reading skill levels in the US reveal a disparity between privileged and disadvantaged communities, often referred to as the “achievement gap.” This gap is evident in the average differences in test scores and grades between under-resourced, minority students and their more advantaged peers (Waterford, 2020). If our kids don’t have access to fun, mind-sharpening opportunities over the summer, especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds, they will return to school in the fall unprepared and behind their fellow classmates.

Healthy Coping Mechanisms for Families

Fight Back Learning Loss

We now understand the negative implications of summer learning loss. To strike back at the slide, it’s critical for parents to proactively engage their children in activities that are both fun and edifying! By mixing education with play, you can keep your children’s minds active and ensure they don’t fall behind in school. Here are nine activities to help your child stay sharp and ready for the new school year:

9 Fun Summer Activities to Keep Kids Engaged

  1. Reading Together: Encourage daily reading by setting aside dedicated time for your child to read alone, with you, or with siblings. Libraries often have summer reading programs with incentives that can motivate children to read more. Visit your local library to find out more!
  2. Educational Apps and Games: Utilize technology by incorporating educational apps and online games that focus on math, reading, and science skills. Websites like Khan Academy offer amazing and free resources for various age groups and subjects like math, science, and reading (
  3. Nature Walks and Science Exploration: Take your child on nature walks and explore local parks, streams, forests, or beaches. Discuss different plants, insects, and animals, and perhaps even start a nature journal to document observations. This cultivates curiosity and scientific thinking in children during their formative years.
  4. Writing Projects: Encourage your child to keep a summer journal, write stories, or compose letters to family members. This enhances writing skills and creativity while keeping their mind engaged (, 2020).
  5. Math Games and Puzzles: Integrate math into daily activities through games and puzzles. Board games that require counting, addition, or strategic thinking, like Monopoly or Sudoku, can make math fun and practical.
  6. Cooking and Baking: Involve your child in cooking and baking in the kitchen. Following recipes requires reading comprehension, math skills for measuring ingredients, and can spark an interest in science through understanding chemical reactions.
  7. Museum Visits and Virtual Tours: Visit local museums or explore virtual tours of famous museums around the world. This can be a fun way to learn about history, art, and science in an engaging environment (
  8. Gardening: Involving your child in gardening tasks like planting, watering, and observing plant growth provides a hands-on learning experience in biology, ecology, and responsibility. Online nurseries, which have become increasingly popular, offer a convenient way to find the perfect plants for your family’s garden (
  9. Community Service and Volunteering: Participate in community service projects. Volunteering can teach children social responsibility, organizational skills, and the value of teamwork while applying academic skills in real-world settings.

Creating Lasting Benefits Through Simple Actions

Preventing the summer slide doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Your family can easily incorporate unique educational activities into daily routines, making learning a fun and seamless part of summertime. Whether it’s through reading together, exploring nature, hopping online for a virtual tour of the Smithsonian, or playing educational games, these activities are accessible and enjoyable.

By investing a little effort into these activities, parents can help children maintain their academic skills and stay on par with their peers. Let’s make this summer a season of growth and learning, ensuring children are ready for the challenges of the new school year.

Works Cited