Preventing the Summer Slide – Part 2

by Laurie Laurendeau on May 29, 2012

Last week, I told you about the phenomenon known as the “summer slide”, or the losing of academic ground that can occur over the summer months.  I talked about some strategies that you as a parent can use to help prevent this slide from happening in your young child.  Today, I will talk about your older child (4th grade and above).

4th Grade and above

By the time your child hits 4th grade, she has learned many of the necessary foundational skills, and is beginning to be more independent.  This doesn’t mean that it’s time for you to be uninvolved in your child’s learning.  There are still many opportunities for you and your child to learn together!

Some of the important skills that your child is currently working on include:

  • Reading Comprehension strategies
  • Writing skills – paragraphing and essay writing
  • Multiplication and Division facts
  • Long multiplication and long division

Reading Comprehension:

  • Once a child learns how to read, they sometimes struggle with truly understanding what they are reading.  Many good reading programs now include specific instruction in comprehension strategies.  You may have heard your child talk about “making connections” to her reading.  Ask her to continue making those connections, both orally and on sticky notes in her book.
  • Encourage her to choose books that she will enjoy reading this summer.  This is so important, especially for reluctant readers.  Next, talk about the book she is reading whenever possible.  Ask her what’s happening in the story.  By doing this, you can determine how well she’s understanding the story (even if you haven’t read the book, you should be able to tell if the story makes sense, and if she is able to tell you the main parts, as opposed to a collection of details).
  • Visit your local library and sign up for the summer reading program if they have one.  This motivates many children to read over the summer.
  • Talk to other moms – if they have children around the same age, they might be interested in getting the kids together to form a small book group with your child.

Writing skills:

  • Many children do not enjoy writing.  Encourage your child to write over the summer in ways that are interesting to her.  For example, she might be interested in keeping a journal while she’s on vacation.  Be sure that she is free to write whatever she wants without parental editing.  This will encourage free writing and hopefully more writing on her part.
  • The art of thank you letters seems to be something from the past.  Encourage your child to write thank you letters for any reason that would be appropriate (gifts from friends or relatives, a thank you for an invitation to a friend’s lakehouse, etc…)

Multiplication and Division Facts:

  • In much the same way that Addition and Subtraction facts are important in the younger grades, Multiplication and Division facts are equally important in the upper grades.  Be sure your child has mastered these facts.  If she doesn’t master these facts, it will significantly slow her down in more complicated math problems later on.  Of course, there are always flashcards to practice the facts, but there are also many games (board games and online) that provide a fun way to practice over the summer.

Long Multiplication and Long Division:

  • Be sure your child is comfortable multiplying and dividing larger numbers (up to 3 digit).  You don’t have to spend your summer working on these problems; you just want to be sure your child has these basic skills mastered.

Enjoy your time playing and learning with your child this summer.  Hopefully these tips will provide you with some interesting learning opportunities for you and your child to help prevent that summer slide!


  • 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?

Go to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.  I’d love to help!

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