Even if you’ve already enrolled your kids in a day camp this summer, it’s not too late to prevent the common “summer slide” when kids forget things they’ve learned at school and simultaneously put on weight because they have free access to junk food or simply too much food. Carrie Scheiner, fit mom and creator of Exploracise, shares her top four tips to help prevent summer learning loss and weight gain.
What is the summer slide?
Though it may sound like a cool piece of plaground equipment, summer slide is something all parents of school-age children can and should prevent. “The ‘summer slide’ is the information and skills children forget during summer break from the end of one school year to the beginning of the next school year,” Scheiner explains. The education slide is well-documented by numerous studies, which were synthesized in the 1990s by Harris Cooper then a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia. Research suggests that children may forget one to three months of learning over the summer.
Combine learning, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices
Scheiner, who has a math education background, was inspired by her own children to create Exploracise www.exploracise.com, an award-winning program that creatively teaches kids educational skills during a complete workout, from warm-up to cool-down. Scheiner isn’t just concerned about the learning loss kids often experience, she is also concerned about the number of kids who are overweight and obese. “While some people are aware of the learning loss, many aren’t aware that children tend to gain weight more rapidly when they’re out of school,” Scheiner says. Citing a 2007 study by Paul Von Hippel of Ohio State University, she adds, “He found that kids, especially those at risk for obesity, gain as much weight during the summer as they do all school year.”
What can parents do?
You may be just as busy or busier during the summer as you are during the school year, but Scheiner says you can still keep young brains and bodies engaged in healthy ways. Scheiner offers these tips:
Journal your child’s current achievement levels
How do you know if your child is affected by summer slide if you don’t remember where they ended the year? Scheiner suggests creating a summer journal and, in the first few pages, document what your kiddos most recently learned in their major subjects. Were they adding and subtracting double-digit numbers? Doing long division? What were some of their vocabulary or spelling words? Throughout the summer, track their progress and, at the least, work with them to maintain those levels – or maybe even move on to more challenging material.
Consider educational day camp
“We all want our kids to have fun during the summer, and they can,” empathizes Scheiner. “Enroll in the fun, active day camps that focus on art, music or swimming. But toward the end of the summer, have your children attend one week of math camp and one week of reading camp as a refresher.”
Make free time an opportunity to feed your child’s brain
It’s true: Kids have a lot more free time in the summer. You can help your child feed his or her brain during this extra time by doing educational activities, such as visiting the library and checking out print books, audio books, educational DVDs, and even educational computer games. Many websites also offer activity ideas that you and the kids can enjoy together.
ACTIVE-ate the brain
Physical activity exercises both the body and the brain. “Just like our body needs exercise to stay healthy, so does the brain to keep those neurons firing,” says Scheiner. “Encourage kids to stay active and play outside during the summer and allow only limited, scheduled times for sedentary activities like video games or TV.”