5 Ways to Prevent the Summer Slide

By: Angela O’Hara, MS, CCC-SLP Speech-Language Pathologist, and Abby Brayton-Chung, MS, OTR/L Occupational Therapist

Our dedicated multi-disciplinary team of Pediatric Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists provide comprehensive services to children of all ages. Read on for some fun tips from two of our pediatric therapists to keep your child’s skills sharp this summer!

Each September, we hear from classroom teachers who bemoan how they have to spend the first six to eight weeks playing catch-up with students who have lapsed a bit in language and motor skills during summer vacation. Sometimes called the “summer slide”, this regression often happens when children aren’t as engaged in learning between the end of the school year and the start of a new one.

To help your kid return to school ready to learn, try some of these fun and easy ways to encourage language and motor development throughout the summer.

1.       Grow a Backyard Garden

  • Have your child help draw a plan for where plants should grow in the garden.
  • Have your child dig holes in the dirt to plant flowers and vegetables.
  • Talk about soil and nutrition needed to grow healthy plants/vegetables.
  • Make a weekly schedule for weeding/watering the garden.
  • Draw a book illustrating the growing plants and write about their progress.

2.       Make a Summer Snack (Frozen fudge ice cube pops, Homemade ice cream)

  • Create a list of items needed for the recipe and write these out for an opportunity to practice handwriting.
  • Cut coupons and estimate cost. Use this opportunity to talk about money tips.
  • When you shop for the items with your child, talk about how grocery stores are organized.
  • Follow a recipe to create the snack.

3.       Create a Vacation Scrapbook

  • Have your child collect pictures, items, and memorabilia from your trips or outings (tickets to a water park, airline boarding pass, coins from a country).
  • Draw pictures and write about what you did on vacation.
  • Glue, fasten, or Velcro items into a scrapbook.
  • Use the scrapbook to practice retelling stories to family and neighbors.

4.       Catch Lightning Bugs in a Jar

  • Talk about what lightning bugs are and why they light up.
  • Research what they eat and why they don’t come out in colder weather.
  • Use a net to catch the lightning bugs.

5.       Create a Backyard Terrarium

  • Find items from your backyard — bugs/insects/crawlers — and put in an old fish tank or Mason jar.
  • Label and draw pictures of each bug to make a vocabulary book of new insect names.
  • Release the terrarium at the end of the week and talk about co-habitation.

The main goal is to keep kids performing tasks and tackling challenges similar to what they do during the school year, but in a fun way without the academic pressure sometimes associated with a classroom. Now go out and have fun this summer!