How to avoid the ‘Summer Slide’

Planning a family vacation? It’s an excellent opportunity for kids to practice their math skills this summer, by reading the map and calculating distance and time.

(ROCKWALL, TX – May 18, 2015) Every year about this time, panic sets in. Graduation, STAAR tests, end of year exams and projects loom in front of students (and parents), causing more than a little angst in the family. What can we do to get through these difficult times?

If we have put off finding solutions to a child’s academic problems until May, it may be too late to salvage this year; however, for most children, one year does not an academic career make. Begin now and plan ahead for the next year.

Summer is the perfect time to help your children get a head start on the coming school year. There are an abundance of opportunities in the Rockwall and Dallas counties for your children to build their academic skills. There are even interesting summer experiences like Chinese Camp and Chocolate Camp, but probably the most valuable thing you can do is to find fun opportunities for your children to enroll in programs that teach skills they will need during the school year.

Reading programs, math programs, writing programs, art programs, and many others are available that help make learning a fun summer activity.

One of these activities that is strongly recommended for kids to do during the summer is writing. Guide them to make a Summer Journal, documenting their summer activities. If a vacation is planned, help them to enjoy it even more by gathering mementos from the journey and creating a scrapbook. Writing about an experience not only reinforces the experience, but gives them practice in a skill that will be critical when they enter college.

Several years ago a study was published listing the five habits of successful students. The most successful students practice writing regularly. Even if their efforts were short and wouldn’t win a Pulitzer Prize, the act of writing helps children organize their thoughts, and the more they write, the better they will get.

Additionally, allow them to do some things that will require mathematical thinking. Trip planning provides opportunities to learn a wide variety of math concepts. The trip itself makes math opportunities available, such as reading a map. Allowing them to practice math skills, such as rate, distance, average, and time while on a trip, makes math “real” to them.  It becomes a part of life and not just a subject at school.

Finally, make summer an opportunity to learn as well as an opportunity to have fun.  There is a phenomenon called the “Summer Slide” which was documented by a Harvard study in 1995. They discovered that children loose an average of two and a half months of learning during an idle summer. This can be avoided with a little planning and work.  For some ideas, you might check out our website,  Have a fun and productive summer!

By Blue Ribbon News guest columnists Bob and Becky Barnes with Mathnasium Learning Center in Rockwall. Contact them at

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