Keeping kids engaged helps fight 'summer slide,' groups say
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Summer's midpoint has passed and with the start of school now easing into view, a national group offers some pointers to help parents ensure their kids haven't dropped all the learning they picked up during the last school year.

Year after year of the "summer slide" – the name for the process of kids losing knowledge they've learned during the idle summer months – can have cumulative impacts on a child's overall education, according to the National Summer Learning Association, a Baltimore-based educational policy group.

For example, NSLA claims most children lose about two months of math knowledge during the summer and up to three months of overall academic growth.

This phenomenon can especially impact low-income students and can vary based on grade level and subject.

All that is needed to combat summer slide for mathematics knowledge is about 30 minutes per week of learning activities, according to educational software company Dreambox Learning.

In the Texas Panhandle, there are several ongoing activities available in different subjects through the summer. Even if parents aren't able to take their kids to any museum or other activities, there are ways to keep and sharpen children's math skills through ordinary daily activities, the NSLA and Dreambox suggest:

  • Numbers: Counting, estimating, addition, subtraction, multiplication and fractions help kids understand number relationships, which are the foundation for math knowledge. Card games (War, Uno, etc.) that show greater-than and less-than relationships are good.
  • Patterns: Identifying and predicting patterns in designs or other objects are a good way to keep skills sharp for algebra.
  • Dimensions: Drawing two-dimensional shapes are a good way to keep geometry skills at the forefront. Building objects with blocks or other materials helps children pick up on three-dimensional relationships.
  • Measuring: Examples include having a child help prepare a recipe or help determine length and width measurements for building something.
  • Data analysis: While traveling or walking around the neighborhood, get a child to count the number of cars vs. trucks, or vehicles of different colors, and draw bar graphs of the numbers of each.
  • Reasoning: If there's a real-life math problem – how many chairs should be arranged at tables for a family get-together, how many knives and forks, etc. – have the child talk out their logic for solving the problem. This will help build their confidence in mathematics.

Thursday (July 13) is National Summer Learning Day. For more information, click here.



Mike Smith is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. Contact him at, on Twitter at @newsmithm and on Facebook.