The Summer Slide
Whether you call it the summer slide, the summer slump, or the summer brain drain, research shows that students who do not read over the summer are at risk of losing the literacy and language gains they made during the school year. The same goes for children with social communication challenges. Socially challenged learners that spend 3 months in front of a screen over summer months will lose the gains in communication skills they made during the school year.
Luckily, there are easy, fun, and inexpensive ways to support your child’s language and literacy. A great option is to enroll them in speech and language therapy over the summer to support communication skills. There are many activities that you can do at home, as well, to help your child avoid the summer slide.
- Read for a favorite bedtime story before bed each night.
- Visit your local library and participate in the many fun, free, literacy-based activities they offer.
- Start a family book club and discuss the chosen book over ice cream once a week.
- Read about an activity or a place you are visiting before the trip.
- Cook or craft together, and have your child read the recipe/directions as you go!
- Schedule play dates outside of the home to encourage screen-free socializing.
- Find free/inexpensive summer groups and camps in NYC. There are tons of resources and websites to find social groups for kids of all ages, such as mommypoppins.com
- Schedule playgroups with 3 or more kids. Playgroups encourage children to use flexible thinking, shared imagination, and pretend play skills while parents get a chance to socialize too.
- Explore the outdoors. Swim, run through the sprinklers, and go on nature walks with siblings, friends and neighbors. There are countless outdoor language-rich activities in which your child can practice social communication skills.
- Explore the city and talk about what you see. The more your child is exposed to different activities, the more background knowledge they will develop, which is critical for reading comprehension.
- Incorporate language into all of your activities.
Discuss the group plan before going out; point out interesting things you see or your favorite activities as you go.
Discuss your highs and lows at the end of the day.
Have your child retell a story about your latest adventure to friends or family the next day.
- Narrate what you are doing and model descriptive language. Modeling teaches children how to use language without placing high demands on them. For example, on the way to the Zoo you can, "now we're getting on the subway! We'll ride it until we get to the zoo. The train is going so fast!"
Every child should enjoy their summer and have a mental break from the structured learning that takes place during the school year. But with these activities, they can keep learning and be ready for school in September, while having fun this summer.