Help Your Child Avoid the (Very Real) ‘Summer Slide’

Provided by Calgary Reads

Summer is here! This is the time we often relish end-of-school runs, busy activity schedules, and helping our children with homework and regular reading. However, the potential ‘summer slide’ that refers to summer reading loss is real. This decline in children’s reading development that can occur during summer when children are away from the classroom and not participating in formal literacy programs has been studied extensively.

Researchers have uncovered evidence to suggest that the impact of summer reading loss on students in general – and the impact of summer reading loss on at-risk students in particular – is significant. Typically, children lose one to three months of learning every summer. They lose math and reading skills they worked hard to acquire during the school year. They then have to work even harder to catch up in the Fall.

This summer, help your child stay at their reading level – and perhaps improve their confidence and reading pleasure. This doesn’t need to be an onerous task. There are oodles of fun and easy ways to weave words, books, reading and writing into your family’s summer. In the last issue of +Calgary’s Child Magazine, we suggested setting up inviting outdoor ‘reading places’ to encourage reading together or alone: on your deck, in a tent or while lounging in a hammock. You can build fun games and activities into everything special you do this summer, plus find easy ways to maximize your child’s reading within your daily activities.

In addition, check out Seize the Summer materials: “Reading aloud builds memories, engagement and brains” at four posters, a parent handout and a bookmark with playful summer imagery!

Great ideas for summer reading fun!

  • Read maps and tourist guides together as you explore parks, zoos and nature centres.
  • Visits to shopping centres, farmers’ markets and festivals are filled with things to read too: store signs, price tags and product information.
  • Menus at restaurants or labels on grocery store shelves are an easy way to help build vocabulary.
  • Encourage your children to write letters or emails to family, send postcards to friends or keep a travel journal. They’ll be improving their writing skills as they document their summer adventures.
  • If you are planning a picnic, have your child write the shopping list and then identify the products at the store. If you’re making cookies to take along too, your child can read the recipe as you make them together.
  • Make a chart for summer reading and plan a book swap or share with family and friends. In the chart, include books that parents and children will each read and track everyone’s progress. Take turns reading aloud to each other or sharing book reviews.
  • Help your child make their own joke book by collecting favorites from family and friends.
  • Hide a tiny item in your pocket and then ask your child to write a story about it.
  • Create a ‘round robin’ story together as a family. One person writes the beginning, and then everyone takes a turn to write what happens next until you reach an ending.

Calgary Reads build connections, strengthen networks, champion, involve and innovate because we all have a role to play in creating a thriving community where all children can read with confidence and joy! Visit the website for videos and resources to help you build the joy of reading in your child and download the printable tip sheet ‘Beat the Summer Brain Drain’ for more ideas at