How Parents Can Prevent Summer Slide

April 22, 2014
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Summer is the time when many students travel, take vacation with family and friends, work in an internship or part-time job, or simply relax and enjoy the warm weather. But research shows that students who don’t participate in academically enriching activities are at risk for “summer slide.” Summer slide can result in students losing a month or more of their learned skills by the time they resume academics in the fall. An Educational Leadership magazine article said, “summer learning loss is cumulative” and can contribute to long-term achievement deficits.

To help counteract summer slide, most experts recommend that students take part in some kind of academic activity during the summer. These students can have an easier transition back to homeschooling in the fall, and even earn better grades during the school year. But with many families scheduling vacation, sports clinics, and other activities during the summer, it can be challenging to fit learning time into the plan.

For families looking for a flexible summer academic option, consider a Laurel Springs summer course. Our entire catalog of courses is available during the summer in a condensed-schedule format. Our semester-length courses take six weeks, and our year-long courses take twelve weeks. Because these courses follow an accelerated schedule, it is important for students to apply time management skills and stay in frequent contact with their teachers. Our six-week and twelve-week courses begin on Wednesdays and end on Tuesdays, but students can complete their coursework at any time of day or any day of the week. 97% of students who took a summer course with Laurel Springs last year would take another summer course this year. Check out our website to find a schedule that would work for you.

Does your child have an interest in digital photography, anthropology, or forensic science? One of our elective courses can be a great choice for summer. Some students take a World Language or core course to get ahead before the fall semester begins. And all twenty of our Advanced Placement (AP) titles are available as summer courses, with spring exam prep sessions included as part of the course.

Age Appropriate Summer Plans

Whether you have younger children, tweens, or teenagers, summer can be a time of great growth for them, and also have potential for lots of fun! Education experts at Laurel Springs recommend age appropriate plans for summer.

Grades 9-12

High school students are on their way to becoming independent, self-sufficient young adults. When considering how to make summer plans, teenagers and their families should consider what is necessary (such as a summer job or family plans), and what the child enjoys doing. This list can serve as a great starting point for a family conversation about summer plans:

  • Consider a summer job. Teenagers who work during the summer report an increase in their understanding of personal responsibility, independence, and accountability.
  • Identify volunteer or internship opportunities. Teenagers who engage in volunteer activities or an internship in an area of interest have a chance to experience a potential career. Knowing what you don’t want to do can be just as important as knowing what you do want to do. Volunteer and internship positions are risk-free ways for students to learn what potential careers would (or would not) interest them.
  • Get ahead academically. Summer courses are a smart way for high school students to plan a more manageable upcoming school year. When considering a summer course, be purposeful in choosing which course would be the best option. Laurel Springs summer courses are student-centric, so assignments can be completed regardless of travel, work, or other summer activities.
  • Visit colleges. High school students can begin by visiting the campuses of colleges that are local to them. These casual, unofficial visits can consist of walking through campus and observing student life. For rising juniors or seniors, plan official college visits based on a list of colleges where the student plans to apply. Call ahead to find out about campus tours, and make an appointment to visit with an admissions counselor. College visits allow students to get a feel for the type of school environment that is a good fit.

Because high school students may have a very busy schedule during the traditional academic school year, it is important to incorporate time with friends and family when planning what to do during the summer. As students become experts at balancing coursework, social activities, work responsibilities, and college plans, summer can be the ideal time to strengthen those skills in a more relaxed setting.

Grades 6-8

The middle school years are a time for children to balance increased independence with family structure. Tweens and teens are in a developmental stage where they are finding their way, but still need the support of rules and guidance from older family members. Children in this age group can feel empowered by making more of their own choices, especially when those choices build skills or help others. Parents can help by providing a framework that has the desired amount of structure, but still allows kids to develop independence incrementally. Ideally, summer can be a mix of family time and activities with peers. Here are some suggestions to explore with your middle school child:

  • Incorporate friends into summer activities. If your family takes a summer vacation, consider allowing your child to invite a close friend to come along for company. Or coordinate with the families of your child’s friends to select summer camps where your child will have friends to share the experience.
  • Explore hobbies and interests. Summer is a fantastic time for students to delve deeper into activities such as sports, hobbies, or other passions.
  • Give back. Children who volunteer in an area of interest learn responsibility and independence while developing an increased awareness of the needs of others. Research options for community service with local libraries, religious institutions, and other nonprofit organizations.
  • Maintain academic focus. Taking a summer course can help children stay focused on academics during the summer months. Consider a Laurel Springs elective or World Language summer course, which can be completed according to the student’s schedule, even accommodating travel and vacation plans.

As children progress through the middle school years, the summer months are a time for families to plan a varied schedule of relaxation, family time, activities with peers, and some coursework to maintain intellectual involvement. The key is to find a balance that allows children to have time with friends as well as memorable family experiences.

Grades K-5

Planning your summer with young children can include a wide variety of activities. During the elementary school years, children are eager to explore and soak up new experiences and information. Summer can be a time to take advantage of more free time, warmer weather, and family time. Here are some ideas to help you brainstorm for fun summer plans:


  • Help your children experience new things. It may be an ideal time to schedule lessons or camps during the summer for music, sports, art, theatre, and other passions.
  • Don’t stop reading. Make regular visits to the library to find fun books to borrow for relaxed summer reading. Most libraries have summer reading programs that help make reading feel like fun. Read more here about how to create a summer reading list with your child.
  • Create your own holiday. Let your children plan the decorations and festivities. Some fun ideas could include a birthday party for your pet, or a day with a special theme that your kids choose themselves.
  • Use your outside space in unexpected ways. Your backyard could become the setting for a kid’s version of the summer Olympic Games, a scavenger hunt, an obstacle course, or a nighttime neighborhood movie party.
  • Embrace your local community. Rainy days are ideal for visiting local museums and historic societies, and sunny days are perfect for picking your own produce at local farms. Many towns begin the summer with bicycle safety clinics, which can help your kids feel more comfortable exploring their immediate neighborhood on wheels.
  • Enrich family trips. Whether you are traveling near or far, family vacations can be a time to research personal genealogy, or “interview” older relatives about their childhood years.
  • Keep a record. Start with a blank scrapbook or notebook at the beginning of the summer, and enlist the entire family to tape or paste in tickets, photographs, and other mementos of their summer experiences, along with quick reflections about their favorite parts of each experience. At the end of the summer, your family will have a wonderful record of summer adventures.

Once summer draws to a close, encourage your young children to carry over their summer experiences into the school year. Whether they become involved in the Pen Pal Program or other clubs, Laurel Springs provides many ways for elementary-aged children to connect their personal interests to enhanced learning opportunities.

Whether you have a younger child, tween, or teen, preventing summer slide can be a challenge. Consider enrolling your child in a Laurel Springs summer course to continue enrichment throughout the summer and keep them on track for the fall. For more information and to see a list of our summer courses, view our summer course catalog or contact our Admissions Department at 800-377-5890.