Fighting the Summer Slide

Free photo 2244515 © Jan Kranendonk –

When Thea suggested I write a piece on planning for summer, similar to this one from last year, I was all for it until I sat down to write it and realized I had no idea what I was going to do with the kids this summer…

I want to write, I want them to have fun, and I still don’t want them to experience “summer slump”: the backward slide in academic gains from the previous school year. It’s important to me that they spend enough time using their brains over the summer so August back-to-school isn’t too painful. Things have changed, though. When they were younger, I had weekly themes and math manipulatives and stacks of picture books…I was in my element! Now that they are older, what does avoiding the summer slide look like? Here’s my first attempt at figuring that out.


Yes, our library has an awesome summer reading program, but my youngest was the only one “into” it last year. The other guys read a lot, they just weren’t eager to sticker-chart their reading. I need a fresh take on reading this summer. I’m thinking I’ll have them give reviews for the books they read on video and then send the videos to their cousins or friends (just over my phone). They love making videos and it will be a way to .incorporate technology that doesn’t involve a game controller…because they can’t have screens until 4pm in the summer. Yes, there’s always initial resistance to this rule, but after a few days they get on board with it and they find other things to do during the day. We’ll probably have a weekly trip to the library to keep a fresh selection of books, too.

Free photo 2369068 © Yuriy Kaygorodov –


For previous summers they all had a spiral notebook “journal” that they had to write in before they were allowed to go cause trouble in the neighborhood. Just like with the technology rule, there was always an initial protest, but after a few days, it became part of the routine. I have to make a change this summer, though. Camps start at 8am or 9am and we’re busy grabbing sports equipment and yelling at each other…there’s not really time for journaling before we have to be on the road. I think I’m going to move writing time to right before they’re allowed to do tech. Yes, one last hurdle before brain rot! I’m sure there will be protests, and perhaps rioting, but I bet they’ll write in order to play their favorite video games.

Free photo 1943747 © Ctacik –

Important note on writing: I don’t judge what they write or have ridiculously high expectations. I ignore any use of potty words and written threats of throwing their brother in the lake. I don’t condemn my budding Stephen King for his not-safe-for-school stories. I’m trying to keep their hands accustomed to pencils and their brains forming complete (likely inappropriate) sentences. As long as they are writing, it’s all good.


Ugh. I had all these fun preschool manipulatives and activities. They’re not as interested in them anymore. So how do I encourage math over the summer now? I’ll probably purchase this brand of workbooks for my two youngest. I like this series a lot and it seems to be more true to grade level than some of the others I’ve used. ThinkFun has a huge array of games that trick them into having fun while using some serious brain power.

Here are a few of their faves. Caution: Izzi is hard!

I’ll also have them bake for the neighbors to make up for being “that” house with the loud kids. Baking is an easy place to talk about fractions and measuring. I may also give them clipboards and have them compare costs of items at the grocery stores with the cost at Costco. I’m always meaning to do that myself. Now I can have my minions do it AND give them some math practice. It’s a win-win.

Miscellaneous: I always have a craft box stocked and ready. Googly eyes, poster board, yarn, glue – lots of supplies for creating. No screens during the day frees up a lot of time for creative play. They’re always up for putting on a puppet show for friends in the neighborhood.

My hope is between camps and some anti-summer slide activities, I’ll be able to squeeze in my writing during the day. By July, I may be laughing at my own naiveté, but it’s worth a shot. If you have any ideas on stopping the summer slide or writing over the summer, please share below!

3 Replies to “Fighting the Summer Slide”

  1. Anyone else out there hear ‘summer slide’ and think of either a playground or a water park? As usual, Julie is several steps ahead of me in the parenting game, and I’m super excited about some of these tips to keep my soon-to-be-kindergartener’s brain engaged this summer. Reading and writing are still a little beyond us, but he’ll happily make picture books full of scribbled text. We love baking and craft time, gardening (he’s already begging to get our seeds started), and some nature scavenger hunts (both around the yard and during hikes). Welcome your thoughts on summer activities for the preschool set.

  2. Always great ideas from The Great Julie! I’m thinking hard about the no screens before a certain time rule… but that goes for me as well! I have a stack of books and projects I need/want to get done this summer that are calling my name:)

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