This post was sponsored by Carson Dellosa Education as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.
Summer vacation is a great time for kids to take a break from the rigors of the school year to unwind and relax their brains a bit. Unfortunately, sometimes that relaxation goes a bit too far and much of the educational gains made during the school year can be lost.
It’s called the summer slide. It’s a phenomenon observed by researchers and educators alike where students seem to slide back in their academic progress during the summer with the lack of regular lessons and discipline. And it’s a problem for students, parents, teachers, and school systems.
The problem with the summer slide
My husband used to teach middle school and witnessed the summer slide firsthand. He and his fellow teachers would spend the first few weeks of the new school year trying to recap what was taught the previous school year to jog the memories of students and get them on the baseline of where they should have started the school year at.
That’s lost learning and it has real consequences on how much and quickly the new material can be learned. This can even impact school testing scores as students have less time to learn and practice the valuable information they should be learning in the current year.
How to beat back the summer slide
The good news is the summer slide can be minimized or prevented without kids sacrificing their summer fun or parents having to suddenly learn how to teach summer school.
The secret to success? Taking time every day to review and practice what was learned during the previous school year. Sounds easy in theory, but with swim lessons, play dates, vacations, and more, summer fills up pretty quickly.
What’s helped my oldest daughter avoid the summer slide are the Carson Dellosa Education Summer Bridge books. These workbooks are designed for students at every grade level and contain daily lessons aligned with academic standards to help students review and practice what they learned in the previous school year and prepare them for the next grade.
We discovered the Summer Bridge books before my daughter entered kindergarten and used it as a guide book to prepare her for kindergarten. She didn’t quite make it all the way through that first book, but we saw the value of it as she was very prepared for the school year.
Because of the success we saw, we’ve made Summer Bridge part of our daughter’s daily routine each summer.
How to get your kids going on Summer Bridge
Getting started with Summer Bridge is easy: purchase a book. They’re easy to find at most bookstores or online. But just having a book isn’t enough to make it successful.
Establish a routine
One of the biggest differences between a regular school day and summer vacation is the absence of a consistent routine. While kids may love the freedom and flexibility, it’s part of why the summer slide happens. Our brains learn by making connections and practicing things repeatedly until they become a habit. A routine helps create good learning environments for our brain to make those connections.
I can’t tell you the perfect routine for your kids, but what we’ve done is establish a daily routine our kids have to do before they can play any electronics or play with friends.
The daily routine
- Read for 30 minutes
- Do the daily Summer Bridge lesson
- Write a journal entry about what you did the previous day
It takes less than an hour to complete, but it makes a big difference. The rules are set, there’s motivation to do it (especially if your child loves electronics as much as mine), and after a week or so it’s almost automatic.
The Summer Bridge portion itself usually takes about 10-15 minutes to complete. It’s not designed to be stressful or overly challenging. Its purpose is to jog the memory and get in some extra practice.
We’re all motivated by incentives, so set an incentive for your child to complete their Summer Bridge lessons. One good way to do this is monthly rewards for completion of all lessons during the month. It can be a fun activity, a treat, or anything else that will motivate your child. With the reward in sight, it’s easier to buckle down and do the daily lessons.
An easy daily reward is a sticker. Sticker packs are affordable and fun. Place a sticker in the corner of each lesson to mark completion.
Establish a learning center
At school, your child probably has an assigned desk, particularly if they’re in elementary school. There’s something about having a specific place to work that puts your brain in work mode.
So set up a designated learning center. You don’t have to have a desk to do this. It can be as simple as a corner of the room or a seat at the kitchen table.
In addition to a physical location, it’s helpful to create a learning basket. Place the Summer Bridge workbook, pencils, colored pencils or markers (some activities require coloring), and a ruler in the basket. This puts everything right at your child’s fingertips and prevents excuses of not having what they need or time-consuming hunts for supplies.
Review your child’s work
If your child is going to put in the work each day, it’s only fair that you do a bit too, right? Take the time to review your child’s work. If you’re not sure about the correct answers yourself, have your child walk you through how they got to their answer. It’s a good chance to see how confident they are, and you may even learn something!
Take the workbook with you on trips
Going on a vacation this summer? No worries. The Summer Bridge book is highly portable and durable. Slip it in your child’s backpack for a flight, or have them work on it during a car ride.
The impact of Summer Bridge
Summer Bridge has been part of our summer for years now and I can honestly say I love it. It’s affordable, easy to understand, and aligns well with what my child learned the previous year.
As you can imagine, it’s not always easy to get started. Kids come into summer break with grand ideas of lazy days with no responsibility, so anything that breaks that vision is going to be a challenge. But after the first week of establishing the routine, my daughter does it without complaining. It’s part of her day just like showering or making her bed.
The last couple years, as we’ve started a new school year, my daughter’s teacher has pulled us aside and asked us what we did in the summer because our daughter isn’t experiencing the same summer slide effects as her peers. And we’re always quick to share the success we’ve found with Summer Bridge.
It’s a small investment that will make your summers more disciplined, keep your kids mentally sharp, make the transition back to the school year easier, and prepare your kids to hit the ground running when school starts again.