Preventing the Summer Slide – Part 1

by Laurie Laurendeau on May 22, 2012

You may have heard about something called the “summer slide”, but what exactly is it?  The summer slide is what teachers call the loss of learning that can occur over the summer months.  Students who do not have focused educational opportunities while they are not in school over the summer can lose 2 months or more of learning from the previous year.  That’s 20% or more of the last school year!  Most parents would agree that they do not want their child to forget concepts they learned over the course of the school year.  So what can you as a parent do to prevent the summer slide?  I will focus on the younger grades this week, and Part 2 next week will discuss strategies for children as they move on in grades.


These early years are defined by the introduction of many important foundational skills. Some of the important concepts that are learned in these grades include:

  • Alphabet – recognizing the name of the upper and lowercase letters, and knowing the sounds they make
  • Phonemic Awareness – the ability to manipulate sounds within words orally
  • Phonics/Word Families/Spelling Patterns
  • Counting Money
  • Telling Time
  • Counting by 1’s, 10s, 5’s and 2’s
  • Addition and Subtraction Facts

What can you do at home to help?

Alphabet: Put magnetic letters on your fridge and ask your child to find certain letters.  You can call the letter by name, or you can make the sound and ask her to find the corresponding letter.

Phonemic Awareness: This includes rhyming, and please don’t underestimate the importance of rhyming for reading.  Read rhyming books to your child often, and be sure to systematically point out the rhyming words as you go.

Phonics/Word Families/Spelling Patterns:

  • Be sure your child knows the short vowel sounds (“a” as in “cat”, “e” as in “bed”, “I” as in “pig”, “o” as in “dog”, and “u” as in “up”), as well as the long vowel sounds (long vowels make the same sound as the name of the letter, such as “a” in “take”).
  • Next, check to see if she knows the Consonant Digraphs (sh, th, ch, wh, ph) and Blends (ex: bl, fl, gl, sp, st, sn, br, dr, tr)
  • Other important spelling patterns include “ow”, “ou”, “oo”, “oi”, “oy” and so on.  Look for a good workbook that includes all of these phonics skills, such as the “Brainquest” series (Pre-K to 4th grade workbooks).

Counting Money: Take your child shopping, and allow her to count out money when purchasing items at the store.

Telling Time: Children see digital clocks all around them, and they can usually tell time with them because it is simply a matter of reading the numbers.  Be sure your child can also read an analog clock (clock with hands).  Begin by talking about the hour hand and minute hand.  Teach the time to the hour, then the half hour, quarter hour, 5 minutes, and to the minute.

Counting by 1’s, 10’s, 5’s and 2’s: This is an easy activity to do while you’re driving around in the car.  Watch as your child transitions into the next  10’s (ex: 29, 30), as this is usually what is most difficult as children count by 1’s.

Addition and Subtraction Facts: I cannot stress enough how important it is to work on the Addition and Subtraction Facts with your child as soon as she begins learning them in school.  I see too many kids counting on their fingers in upper grades, and this is simply because they did not have enough exposure to the facts in the younger grades.  Check out my Giggle Facts program for 50 fun addition and subtraction games that will keep you busy all summer long and into next school year as well!

Whatever activities you decide to do with your child, be sure they are fun, engaging, and educational.  Summer is a wonderful opportunity to spend more time with your child and make meaningful (and educational!) memories along the way.


  • As always, playing math games at home is a great way to reinforce math skills learned in school.
  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
  • Need help or advice about your child’s learning?
  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

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