Beat the Summer Slide!

July 14, 2014 by Serena Atkins
Image First, you may be asking, what exactly is the summer slide? The latest playground instalment, perhaps? A new water park feature? 

Summer slide

The Summer Slide is actually none of these things! It’s a term coined by educational psychologist Harris Cooper, who found that US schoolchildren regress in all subjects over the summer holidays, by an average of a month – a whopping 2.6 months in maths. How can you prevent this summer learning loss?

It is important that the kids have some down time and R&R, especially for those students who need time to catch their breath after the agony of June exams.  Just a few lessons of tutoring over the summer holidays can help students feel better prepared for the term ahead.

Here are some tips for parents and tutors, to retain some learning over the summer.

 1.      Make work fun

Summer learning should be fun. Whether you’re educating your children yourself, or enlisting the help of or tutor, take the lessons outside the classroom and discover activities that your child will enjoy. Find out about next year’s curriculum; just hearing about a topic in advance helps pupils to learn it quickly in the classroom. Create a treasure hunt with subject-specific clues – this has the added advantage of keeping them occupied for some time, depending on how tricky the questions are.

 2.      Riveting Reading

Educational Psychologist Harris Cooper found that the poorest children lose the most reading skills, while those better off actually improved over the summer. The long summer break can be an opportunity for children to discover reading. Be inventive; even the most reluctant reader just needs the right trigger.

For example many parents find their children enjoy using ebooks. You can buy affordable ebook readers, such as the kindle, that give your child access to reading material in a format that they are used to.

You could try the Summer Reading Challenge, which rewards children with stickers and certificates, or the Reading Chest.


 3.      Marvellous Maths

Adapt recipe quantities while cooking to familiarise children with dividing, multiplying and using fractions. These questions crop up everywhere from primary school to GCSE Maths.

Next time you’re begged for a trip to Thorpe Park, ask your child to calculate the cost for the whole family. For the cash-strapped parent, this might have benefits beyond maths practice!

When your 6-year-old asks, again, how long till his best friend arrives: ask him to work out the time in hours and minutes (or days and hours, depending on how early the excitement starts to build…) Young children find time calculations a challenge, counting in a base of 60 instead of the normal 10s and 100s.

Children are natural entrepreneurs: if it would be safe and you can keep an eye on them, a home-made lemonade stall requires plenty of maths practice. Just keep an eye on the recipe to make sure they produce something drinkable! Ask them to calculate the profit margin and hourly earnings - useful to know when employing a younger sibling…


Puzzles like Kakuro and Calcudoku are a god-send to get children doing the four main operations (+, -, x, ÷) really quickly. It’s amazing how much even teenagers can benefit!

 4.      Whirlwind Writing

Long car journey? As a pre-teen with 3 younger siblings, I had a whole series of car-time tales about Ruthy the rat who rode the tube around London with her ratty friends. Kill two birds with one stone: encouraging your children to pass the time telling stories develops their linguistic creativity as well as stopping them from pinching each other, kicking your seat and dropping banana skins down the driver’s neck (yes, I’m afraid we were that awful). You can offer a prize for the best story.

Sign up to Creative Writing 4 Kids (£4.99/month) where children write their own online book for themselves and their friends.

Postcards are also a cheap, appealing way of getting a child to pen a few lines to a friend.

 5.      Super Science

Normally forbidden, night-time activities have a special thrill. Take your child outside to see the next New Moon. Repeat every 7 days to see the whole cycle - or go more often to observe the gibbous and crescent moons. Check the moon phases and rising times.


Take advantage of the British summer weather: after the next rain shower, draw chalk circles round a few puddles, to observe the water cycle. Even in our damp conditions, your child will see evaporation in action as the puddle shrinks.

In the garden or park, ask your child to collect small (one leaf is good) samples from different plant species. Go over these samples together, discussing differences and similarities, and why one plant is classed as a different species from another.

6.       Find a tutor 

Children are remarkably good at learning in different environments with different people, and if you can afford some extra help, a tutor could be just what they need to inject some educational fun into the holidays. This doesn’t mean someone who will sit at home forcing algebra over the kitchen table!

Most tutors are, by now, as fed up of painful exam-cramming as you and your children, and will be only too happy to rediscover the joy of learning over summer.

Some families even take a tutor away on holiday with them. While this will add considerably to the holiday’s price tag, it can be a fantastic way to keep up your childrens’ learning and physical activity, while you get to recover and relax over a cocktail…

To find the right Tutor in your area search Tutorfair.

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