Seven Ways to Skip the Summer Slide Blues
Face it. Your kids work hard all year long – studying, reading logs, multiplication tables, research projects, extracurricular activities, and more. By the time the weather turns warm, students are ready to head out the door singing “School’s Out for Summer” at the top of their lungs. But parents, and educators, often look at the long summer months with trepidation, knowing that certain skills, such as reading and mathematics, begin to recede, or as is more commonly known, become subject to the “summer slide.”
Additionally, if you’re the parent of a child with learning challenges, the break from the regular school structure can be stressful for the student, academically and socially, as well as for the whole family. For students (and families) who struggle with ADD, ADHD, or dyslexia, I suggest the following tips for not only surviving, but thriving during the summer months:
As the school year ends, collaborate with your child and his/her learning team to help set small learning goals that keep the skills fresh all summer long. Stress the successes of the school year as the basis for your summer plan – what did your child do really well at and how can that success be the jumping off point for summer learning? Your child will feel the support and so will you. At the start of the new school session, your child can share the program’s success, helping to build self-esteem and independent learning skills.
Learn Something New
If your child has talked about an interest in something new, but there was just no time during the school year, summer can be the perfect opportunity to explore and foster uncharted learning. Better yet, find something the entire family wants to learn more about. An amusement park can become a study in engineering (and fun); a neighbor’s yard sale (or your own) can be a way to learn about recycling; building a new deck can become an architectural adventure; a bake sale or lemonade stand can teach any child great lessons about entrepreneurship. The possibilities are only limited by your child’s imagination.
Get a Move On
The long summer days are perfect for outside activity, which is not only good for the body, but keeps the brain in top shape as well. Much is being studied and written about regarding the importance that regular exercise has for kids with learning struggles and its relationship to succeeding in the classroom. Summer is no different for a child with learning challenges and daily movement, especially ones that get them off the couch, electronic devices, and outdoors, can make the days go smoother and keep young brain in top shape, as well as offset boredom and social isolation.
Grow a Garden
If you have the space for a small kitchen garden, plant some seeds and watch your child’s interest in healthy eating skyrocket. If you’re not the green thumb type, then visit your community garden or weekly farmer’s market to learn about the cycles of the summer growing season. By teaching kids about how food is grown in their own community, they can learn first-hand that real food tastes better and can make it easier to keep them off foods with artificial colorings and flavors, which helps with mood stabilization. What better way to learn chemistry than by turning food they’ve grown themselves into delicious meals? And don’t forget the vitamins – Most children are deficient in fish oils, evening primrose oil, folate, B12, B6, thiamine, iron, magnesium, zinc, calcium, and trace – summer time smoothies are a great way to get kids the nutrition they need without their knowing that they’re actually good for them.
In the Company of Friends
Remember that an active social life also keeps our brains in good shape, and social interaction is especially critical for children with learning struggles. Think about signing your child up for a sports camp, or organize a weekly movie date with some special friends. Beyond losing academic traction, the summer can be stressful if separation anxiety is added to the mix, and regular social contact can add to your child’s overall summertime sense of well-being.
Pitch a tent in the yard, make some s’mores and watch the fireflies buzz by. Throw up an old sheet and project your favorite movies for a stay-at-home outside theater. Take your family’s weekly game night outside with a friendly game of ping pong, ring toss, or horseshoe matches. Even for working parents, the summer months can be a time of letting go of overwrought schedules – there are very few of us who can resist the lingering light and warm nights and the extra time with our kids.
Take a Deep Breath and Relax
The reality is that while there is a risk of the “summer slide,” there’s also the greater possibility that if you model a relaxed approach and trust that the skills your child mastered (and sometimes struggled with) are not going to shrivel and dry up, your child will relax as well. Relaxation fosters body/mind integration and summer may provide just the right balance to let all that learning seep in and take root. You might as well soak it all in because as we all know, summer is over as soon as it gets here.
Susan McCrossin, A.P. is a top learning expert and founder of the Crossinology® Brain Integration Technique. She developed this revolutionary technique of testing and rewiring the brain to improve learning ability, creativity, and physical coordination. Crossinology, a non-invasive and drug-free technique, eliminates ADD, ADHD and dyslexia. She has successfully treated thousands of children and adults with learning disabilities. And she’s trained hundreds of Crossinology practictioners to share the work across the globe. If you’d like to work with Susan as a client, or study to become a practitioner yourself, please click here to contact her.