Ah, summer.  We love the long days and relaxed vibe. Unfortunately, it can also become an academic black hole where all that hard-earned knowledge from the past school year seems to disappear. Here are some tips on keeping your kids sharp during the summer:

1. Assess Needs

Be honest about your child’s skills, attitude, and experience at school. If there are any “barely made it,” “did okay but could do better,” or “didn’t really connect with the teacher” subjects, select one or two of those to keep working at over summer. Any holes created now will come back to haunt your child later on as school gets more complex.

2. Set Goals 

There is no way your child will achieve results if he/she doesn’t know what the goal is. Having your child participate in the discussion will help. Goals could be as easy as “Master multiplication facts by practicing multiplication problems for 10 minutes on Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays” or “Improve fluency by going to the library every Friday and checking out two books to practice reading during the week.” Attach some kind of reward or benefit to a job well done.

3. Provide Learning Opportunities

Learning experiences you have with your child now can greatly aid your child’s integration of new ideas in the school year ahead. Visit a variety of museums, parks, communities, and tours and have children build a journal or scrapbook highlighting all their “summer adventures” or “treasure finds.” Working parents may choose summer camps – but beware – most camps are more physical activity than brain stimulation, so even if your child may be at camp, plan for academic work too. Splitting time between physical and mental activity will provide the best results.

4. Develop Consistent Routines

Summer can easily slip into a time of “anything goes,” but that doesn’t lend itself to learning.  When schedules and expectations are stable, engagement and creativity increase. Consistent routines also mean there is a much higher chance of reaching your child’s set goals for improving in math, reading, writing, etc.

With a little focus and some solid plans, your child can return to school refreshed and fully prepared to tackle new subjects from day one.