One of the most common problems students face over the course of their educational careers is the loss of skills and knowledge over extended summer breaks, sometimes known as "summer slide." This is especially difficult for students who are already struggling academically and may not be receiving support services when school is not in session.
Fortunately, there are several things educators and parents can do to help ensure students stay academically active during the summer months. Take the time to locate local and easily accessible resources to share with your students.
Surprisingly there are a lot of educational videos available online. Take the time to visit Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube to find content that is appropriate for your students. Make a list and categorize the videos into areas of interest such as wildlife, mechanical, nature, weather, literature, and history. Khan Academy has thousands of academic videos which are freely accessible to anyone online.
Many people are completely unaware of the state and national treasures hiding near their homes. National and state parks often offer educational programs for children that offer hands on activities for a minimal fee. These are a great way to keep students interested in learning about science and nature, and can be followed up by a trip to the library for more information on the topic discussed. Make a list of national and state parks that provides hours, contact information, and activities for each.
As an educator you probably love to read. Unfortunately, some children find it a chore. One way to make it more fun for them is to offer prizes. There are many national reading programs that do just this! Scholastic has a summer reading challenge each year that schools can participate in. Barnes and Noble has a similar one that allows children to earn free books. Pizza Hut has the ever popular Book It! program that awards children free pizza for reading.
You may also want to partner with local bookstores or merchants to create your own reading reward program to encourage students to keep reading over the summer.
There are any number of math games that can be played with just a deck of cards or a set of dominoes. Teachers can send cards or dominoes home with their students with a printed set of game instructions. Include a fun card or choose sets that have child friendly imagery to make this an excellent end of school gift for an entire class or a few struggling students. Teachers can send their new students a welcome kit that includes ideas for summer learning fun. List educational videos relevant to curriculum students will be exploring, local parks with free or low cost learning activities, award winning books, and instructions for some of your favorite educational games along with your usual class and school information. Giving parents guidance on how to academically engage their children over the summer will likely help your students in the fall.