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As kids slide into summer, help minimize ‘summer slide’ and maximize skill retention

Following a typical school year, in a phenomenon known as summer slide, kids can lose two months or more of learning gained during the previous 9 months. As we all know, this year has been anything but typical.

Back in April, Education Week published a blog post by Sarah D. Sparks, titled, “Academically Speaking, the ‘COVID Slide’ Could Be a Lot Worse Than You Think.” Citing research and projections from the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), the post says, “If students return to school campuses in the fall without continuity of instruction during the closures, they could have retained only about 70 percent of their reading progress. Compared to a normal year.”

Last month a Family Features post picked up by GlobalNewswire also emphasized the importance of summertime learning but not just in the ways most of us consider. Titled “At-Home Learning Throughout Summer: Tips for Keeping Kids Sharp over the Long-Haul,” the article said, “Research from Harvard indicates parents who engage with their children in simple activities over the summer—like reading together or talking about baseball statistics—can have a greater impact on their children’s academic performance than popular summer activities, such as summer camps, travel or summer school.”

The article also lists some other great ideas for summer learning and skill practice such as taking online field trips, finding and communicating with summer pen pals, and having kids “read aloud books, magazines, or comics to family members, pets or even stuffed animals.”

Of course, spending regularly scheduled time (maybe 30 minutes to an hour a day?) with top-rated, age-specific supplemental learning materials is also important. For example, Big 320-page workbooks from School Zone, available on Amazon, offer sturdy bridges between where kids left of and the next academic destination.

Big Preschool will help preschoolers get ready for reading, writing, and numbers. An A+ adventure unfolds, as kids encounter sensational squares and rocking rectangles, a giant newt reading the newspapers and a dinosaur playing the drums. Bold, bright colors and illustrations ease little ones into learning without feeling overwhelmed.

Moving on to the next level, Big Kindergarten is designed to give kids all the basics for kindergarten and help set the stage for first grade. It’s packed with colorful, creative practice in early math and reading skills. Logic and critical thinking grow too.

Big First Grade presents hours and hours of playful practice across the first-grade curriculum--language arts, math, science, and social studies. Big Second Grade tackles questions such what is a verb? What is regrouping? How fast do plants grow? Kids learn and reinforce many important second-grade skills as they count, identify, estimate, create, measure, and in general, gear up for third grade.

Coming at skill (and bridge!) building from a slightly different perspective, Big Codes, Puzzles & More is loaded with crossword puzzles, games, word searches, riddles, codes, and similar. As but one example of its kid appeal, “Monster Appetites” shows the fraction of a pizza each monster, including a griffin and a cyclops, devoured.” Kids will feel like super sleuths and supreme problem-solvers!

Though this summer will be an unusual one, time for fun in the sun is important too and helps kids and parents alike cope with disappointments, cancellations, and ongoing uncertainty. A little creativity goes a long way in lifting spirits.

A Today report by Allison Slater Tate, titled, “As Summer Plans Cancel, Parents Panic About How to Entertain Kids,” emphasizes just that. Tate quotes Sumer Ramsey, “Indiana mother of six—including 6 -year-old triplet girls,” who, while sad at the cancellation of summer camps, says, “We have decided to spend money on making life at home enjoyable.” She adds, “I’m stocking up on firewood and marshmallows, fishing poles and bait, sunscreen, popsicles, lots of bathing suits, and making sure the kids’ tent is in good shape so they can sleep in the back yard.”

What a perfect example of being handed lemons and making lemonade from them. After all, who doesn’t love lemonade in the summer?