Avoiding the Summer Slide

By: Sandy Churchill

Many cringe if the word “school” is somehow mingled into a discussion about the joys of summer vacation. But a sad truth is the near-inevitable “summer slide” where a good chunk of learning is forgotten in the heat and expanse of July and August days. I’m the first one to say this is largely preventable—and not in the dusty heat of summer school! Of course, this is not an argument for stacks of textbooks or a moratorium on beach time, playgrounds, and picnics.

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 6.08.56 PMRather, it is a call to invite learning, summer-style! Free Fun Fridays (sponsored by the Highland Street Foundation), local concerts, library programs (not to mention discount passes to zoos, museums, and other ‘field trips’) are a great way to squeeze in some history, delve into fine art, or otherwise engage in fun learning and adventure.

Showcase Cinemas merges reading and movies by offering four “Bookworm” events on Wednesday mornings in July that are free for kids and their chaperones, provided each child submits a one-page book report in place of a movie ticket.

This year’s summer library theme of superheroes has spurred programs spanning Greek mythology, science wizards, pet care, and even local war heroes.

At our house, we’ve made a long-time practice of asking the kids to share three facts they learned at any zoo, museum, or other excursion during the car ride home. Despite an occasional bit of eye-rolling and a rare groan, they quickly learned to be on the lookout for cool facts and odd tidbits of information that kept them attentive as they wandered through zoo exhibits, art displays, or museum halls. Want to up the difficulty level? Have mom and dad play too—and no fact can be repeated twice!

Summer gazebo concerts are offered in nearly every town across the state of Massachusetts, providing a free musical “field trip” through the genres of jazz, Big Bands, rock, pop, reggae, classical, and theatrical hits.

Got a reluctant writer? How about launching a super-short summer journal program where a certain number of daily entries lands your son or daughter a reward—extra screen time, a pool party, mini-golf, or a trip for frozen yogurt or ice cream.

Pop in audiobooks in the car and those frequent beach trips or errand runs fill your drive time with literary magic!

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