Your child just finished an exciting third grade year and is making big advances in reading and math. Don’t let her lose that progress over the summer! “Summer learning loss” or “summer slide” are terms educators use to describe the widespread phenomenon of kids losing one to two months of reading and math skills over the summer. The result is lots of kids showing up for their first day of fourth grade and they’re already falling behind in school. When this happens, it can have a long-term impact on the child’s success in school.
The good news is that parents can help kids avoid this pitfall by making sure they do learning activities during the summer. Here are some ways you and your family can help your child keep learning over the summer and start the new school year on track.
Learning activities for the summer before 4th grade
Ask for summer math homework
What?! Your child is sure to look at you like you’re crazy. But asking this year’s teacher for help keeping your child’s math skills current is a smart idea. She’ll likely give you ideas for what your child should focus on. If you’ll have the time and discipline, ask if you can take home the fourth grade math textbook (or the third grade math textbook, if your child needs more time on those skills) and spend time over the summer working through the lessons. You can also print out third grade math worksheets for review, or 4th grade math worksheets to get ahead.
Help your child become a word collector
Your child was exposed to new and challenging books, poetry, and articles this year, and learned many new words. The more words she can learn, the stronger her language skills will be. The best way to grow her vocabulary? Read as much as possible. Read aloud to your child as often as you can, and choose challenging books or articles that have new words to learn. Have your child read every day this summer, both aloud to you and quietly to herself. Visit the library weekly for a stack of new books to inspire your child to keep adding to her growing collection of new words.
Keyboarding is key
We used to call it typing — and we used to learn to type as teenagers. Now it’s called keyboarding, and students begin learning it as early as fourth grade. Especially if your child already uses a computer regularly, it’s a good idea for her to practice good form and habits (like not typing with one finger at a time). Typing.com is an online program with fun games, tests, and lessons to help your child get familiar with the keyboard. You’ll need to sign your child up for a free account (the site asks that users be 13 years old). Short practice sessions of 10 to 15 minutes a few times a week will add up to more comfort with the keyboard by the time school starts.
An expert in…
Summer is a great time for curious kids to learn more about a subject they may not have had time to pursue during the school year. Let your child choose a topic and then research as much as he can about owls, sharks, Mars, costume design, how cola is made, or coding. The librarian at your local library can help him find books. Newsela.com is a good online source for grade-level articles about science, history, and current events. (Note that parents will need to create an account for children under age 13.)
Putting together a piece of furniture? Let your child help you follow the diagram. Did your family get a new device or board game? Have your child read the directions, become the expert, and teach the rest of the family.
Card games are a fun way to practice math skills. To play Multiplication War, start by removing the face cards from the deck. The Ace represents 1. Deal the cards evenly between yourself and your child. Both players then place one card face up. In regular War, the player with the highest-number card wins the hand and keeps the two cards; at the end of the game, the player who has the most cards wins. In Multiplication War, whoever shouts out the product of the two numbers multiplied together wins the hand and gets the two cards. For example, if you put down a three and your child puts down a six, the player who calls out 18 first wins the hand. Start out slowly and give your child time to come up with the answer before you call it out. As she begins to learn higher math facts, you can add the face cards back into the deck, first with all face cards representing 10, and later with the jack representing 11, the queen representing 12, and the king representing 13.
Vigorous exercise is critical for the brain’s development. It can be as serious or as silly as your child wants. Playing soccer on a team is great. So is her own made-up triathlon of Frisbee, hula hooping, and freeze-dancing. The important thing is for your child to get sweaty for at least 30 minutes every day.
Following a recipe
Summer is a good time to teach your child a family recipe or try baking something new. How many people will be eating it? Maybe you’ll want to double the recipe, or cut it in half. Let your child do as much of the reading and measuring and mixing as he can. If he likes cooking or baking, suggest he keep a recipe journal where he writes out his favorite recipes, including any notes about whether he doubled the recipe and anything to try differently next time.