10 At-Home Activities to Help Fight the “Summer Slide”

by Susan Baxter


Summer is on its way and it is time to get outside and play! Family time, water games, playgrounds, and sunshine can all be exciting elements of summer. But did you know kids can lose some academic skills and knowledge over the summer if they don’t use them? Educators sometimes call it the summer slide.

That’s why summer is also a great time to keep your child’s brain engaged with a variety of fun, hands-on learning activities. Read on to find 10 easy ways your family can keep learning and avoid the summer slide over the break.

1. Find a Summer Reading Challenge and Read Every Day

Children who read during the summer are less likely to slide backward in their learning. One fun way to encourage your child is with a summer reading challenge. You can find some great summer reading challenges here. You can also make your own summer reading list, if you would prefer.

Another resource is your local library. Libraries are a treasure trove of books for all ages. Plus, they usually have fun activities for children planned during the summer.

The important part is to make reading a priority by reading with your child every day (or have them read independently if they are old enough).

2. Plan a Nature Scavenger Hunt or Other Outdoor ActivitiesA family enjoys nature with a hike. Try some fun nature activities.

Experts say nature holds important health benefits for kids, including boosting physical, emotional, and mental health.

If you can get to a local trail, or even a state or national park, great! If not, there are plenty of fun nature activities you can do in your own neighborhood. Whether you’re spying on backyard birds, finding bugs, or going on a nature scavenger hunt walk, there are all kinds of ways to learn about science and nature while getting active.

3. Use Free Printable Activities to Make Learning Fun

Use our Waterford Mentor resource to find hundreds of free, printable activities, stories, and coloring pages for your child. You can sign up for a free account if you don’t already have one. Once you’re signed up, click on the “Resources and Activities” tab to find fun and educational activities, like That’s What I Like: A Book About Seasons, by Susan Oliver and illustrated by Juliann Lake.

4. Take a Local (or Virtual) Field Trip

As the country starts to open up, many of our favorite excursions are open for families again. Take advantage of your local museums, community events, and parks. Your child will engage in learning as they explore. Keep a journal of your excursions and write down your child’s favorite experiences.

You can also go on virtual field trips with your children and explore the world from your home.

5. Make Time to Write Every Day

The benefits of writing for children are numerous. Creative writing can encourage them to let their imaginations fly. Meanwhile, journaling helps children to both practice writing and record the thoughts and memories that mean a lot to them.

Encourage your child to keep a journal or try creative writing with these writing prompts for children.

6. Get Into Gardening

What better way to enjoy nature than growing your own flowers, fruits, and vegetables? Gardening is a fun, healthy activity that can also help children learn about nature and nutrition.

The benefits of gardening for children include both mental and physical stimulation. Plus, your child can develop a sense of pride that comes from growing their own beautiful flower or adding tasty fruits or veggies to the family dinner table.

Here are some fun ideas to get started gardening with your child. And if you’re short on outside space, try these garden activities you can do indoors.

A young girl helps in the kitchen. Cooking and baking are great brain-boosting activities for children.7. Cook and Bake With Your Child

Cooking and baking are essential life skills children can learn at home. Cooking offers hands-on learning as children measure ingredients, follow instructions, and talk about nutrition. Be sure to include them in simple cooking activities and rotate what meals or snacks you choose to make. You can even start with a trip to the grocery store together, allowing young learners to lead the way in gathering ingredients.

Bonus: Here’s a fun read along of the classic “Little Red Hen” story for your little one. Hopefully you can get more help baking than the Little Red Hen did!


8. Learn New Words

Learning new words can be fun for children to practice and grow their vocabulary. Place a new word on your refrigerator or other easily seen area and review it for a week. See how often you and your learner can use the word in a sentence as you go throughout your day.

9. Play Some Fun Games (And Learn Math and Thinking, Too!)

Board games are perfect for those rainy days inside. Here’s a bonus: Some also double as fun math games, teaching critical thinking and math skills.

Some classic board games, like Chutes and Ladders, help children learn important facts about numbers. When children move tokens and count out their spaces in board games, experts say they develop an intuitive understanding of the size of numbers and the relationship between them.

Want a challenging game you can play with your child? Chess is a fun game children (and parents) can learn to play together. Chess can have a positive impact on the analytical thinking skills that are important for math, science, and engineering.

10. Practice Everyday Ways to Teach Children Math

We all use math every day. You can point out some of these common uses of math to your child and encourage them to get thinking about numbers with some simple questions and activities.

For example, if you’re about to share a pizza with your family, you can use the slices as fractions. If you take away one slice, how much of the pizza is left? In the car, count the number of red cars or license plates from different states. At the grocery store, figure out how much of an item you can get for a certain amount of money.

Think up your own math questions involving your child’s favorite toys or activities, and encourage your child to explain the reasoning behind their answers.



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