DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Studies show that, during summer break, students lose between 25-30 percent of what they learned during the school year. Parents can avoid this summer slide and help kids hold onto that knowledge, but it requires some planning.
Daily learning can be incorporated into the vacation without sacrificing summer fun.
The Wells family recently spent a night at home, making dinner and memories together. But there was a purpose behind it all, greater than just cooking a meal. The family activity helped the Wells boys reinforce skills that they had learned during the year.
“They’re doing math because they’re measuring. They’re doing science because they’re learning about how to combine ingredients,” explained Sarah Fuerbacher. “Let them write the menu. Let them serve it to you so they’re engaging in those social skills.”
Fuerbacher is a child development expert and clinic director at SMU’s Center for Family Counseling. But she is also a mom.
Even though it is summer vacation, Fuerbacher added, kids still need some structure. “The number one thing that can help bridge that gap between home and school, and them starting to succeed week one,” she continued, “is allow them to have a structure at home.”
Have a plan. Let your kids help make goals for what they will achieve over the summer. And set daily expectations. Parents can help children structure their time, but must also be sure to let them do the work on their own. The Wells family refers to it as “do your stuff.”
Every day in the summer, the Wells boys set aside time for reading, music and vocabulary words.
But it is also important not to overbook each day. Fuerbacher said that the structure should still allow plenty of time for rest and creativity. “The kids end up starting the school year just as drained as they finished it if they’re going back to back to back,” Fuerbacher said. Experts recommend limiting studies to 30-60 minutes each day.
Be sure to make the learning fun as well. The meal that the Wells boys were learning to make included some homemade ice cream. “Things like that can be so important, and they’re the things that they grow up remembering,” Fuerbacher said, “not all of the money that you spent.”
But if the days include screen time, Fuerbacher warned that devices should be shut off after two hours, before brains shut down too. “Our bodies atrophy,” Fuerbacher said. “Our brains do the exact same thing.” And that recommendation from the American Pediatric Association applies to adults too.