Let’s play “Tackle the Summer Slide”
Dr. Tisome Nugent (Cameron’s mommy)
Diane Ackerman (1999) wrote that “Play is an activity enjoyed for its own sake. It is our brain’s favorite way of learning and maneuvering”. It is partially for that reason that summer should be one of the most anticipated times of the year, particularly for those of us who are parents. Most of us can’t wait to play, travel and engage in fun activities with our children. Somehow, sadly in all of that fun, some children end up regressing or experiencing the “Summer Slide.” This is the natural loss of information from an unstimulated mind during the long summer break, while students are out of school or not actively engaged in cognitively or mentally stimulating tasks.
First of all, imagine that a teacher is sitting on my left shoulder. She reminds you to provide structure and tasks to help your children to practice the skills that they have been working on throughout the school year. As a result, this helps your children with the routines and expectations within which their learning is facilitated. In doing so, one may potentially prevent loss of learning. These two months are yours to help your children stay on pace or even get ahead. If you like sports, think of this as your off-season practice.
In contrast, imagine that there is a fun-parent sitting on my right shoulder. She encourages you to have fun with your children, and let them wander and discover. Let them experience how exhilarating it is to play – just to play: To create something out of almost nothing. She says to have unhurried time with them. The fun parent wants to remind you that “hey, this is a chance to play and be like a kid again!”
So here is the thing, we can listen to both of these awesome voices without being crazy. In fact, I try to do it every day. I am learning how to seek harmony. Sorry, balance is a misnomer. The idea of balance suggests that one can have all areas in perfect equilibrium. I haven’t figured that out. If you do, please share. Instead, harmony suggests that you find the best way for the time and things in your life to work together. This is how you can listen to the voices with me, have a blast with your kids and during these few months help to prevent the summer slide.
Playtime, Downtime, and Family time (PDF)
I want to share the idea of PDF as presented by Bari Walsh of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. PDF stands for: Playtime, Downtime, and Family time. “The PDF framework was devised by Denise Pope and her colleagues at Challenge Success, which helps families and schools restore a sense of balance in kids’ performance-driven lives. Pope and her team created the PDF shorthand after surveying the research on factors known to protect kids from risky behaviors, mental health challenges, and poor academic outcomes” (Walsh, 2017). For the purpose of finding harmony: having fun, making memories, and providing your children with mental stimulation during the long summer weeks, I am suggesting modifying the PDF.
How to do PDF in the Summer
- Among the limitless examples: Hanging around with friends, riding bikes at the playground, digging and exploring in the park, playing imaginary games in the basement, camping out in the spare bedroom. Let kids choose their activities.
- If they join a summer team, keep the focus on fun. Don’t worry if you have to miss a game or a practice.
- Don’t over-schedule the summer downtime kids have — whether it’s after camp, on the weekends, or after a summer job.
Dr. Nugent’s Modifications to the PDF method to prevent summer slide:
*Read directions or explain games or activities including those they have played with friends, at school, or elsewhere.
*Explain the relevant rules and objectives for their games or activities.
*Most of us already know how to deal with winning. Allow them to lose as and how you deal with losing. Some suggestions include traditional games such as Scrabble or Monopoly. Other games include: “Wonder Forge Richard Scarry’s Busytown, Eye Found It” or “Qwirkle Board Game” Take the time to actually play games with your children, facilitating conversations and asking them to talk and think through the moves they make in the game.
- Leave time for sitting outside, hanging around on the couch, reading, listening to music, watching TV, and napping. Allowing kids to chill out is vital to their summer!
- Permit (kids and) teens to sleep in.
- Let kids be bored. Let them unwind (allow children to figure out how to entertain themselves and how to be ok with quiet time).
Nugent’s Modifications to the PDF method to prevent summer slide:
* Read together. Talk about the books or articles you are reading this summer and ask them what they want to read. Ask them to connect these back to something they have learned and share that connection with you.
* Be silly with your kids. Take out that favorite storybook and get in character. Better yet, if it’s a family favorite, ad-lib and create your impromptu performance.
- Make it a priority.
- Create simple family rituals, like game night or taco night.
- Dine together.
- Go to the library once a week and just hang out, picking books off the shelf to try. Model a love for learning and curiosity.
- Do inexpensive things together, like exploring a nearby neighborhood or the park on the corner. Go to the local pool together.
Nugent’s Modifications to the PDF method to prevent summer slide:
- Teach kids to protect this time – Model for them the importance of commitment to something bigger than themselves, as well as, the value in struggling through something.
- Use this time to talk about challenges in your day and how you dealt with them.
- Use this time to make emotional deposits into each child. These will be critical in the moments when you need to push that child a little harder so he or she will know that you believe in them and are helping them to endure. They will also know that you are not asking them what you were not willing to give and do.
Jump in the game
In conclusion, the moments when you begin to worry about the summer slide and whether or not your kids will be able to compete come August, just remember you were your child’s first teacher, you’ve got this. Jump in the game. Keep them laughing, listening, talking, and thinking. Summer learning is in your hands!
Thus, if you have questions feel free to reach out to us. If we don’t know we will help you to find some plausible answers.
Walsh, B. (2017, July 18). Reclaiming Downtime. Retrieved July 24, 2017, from http://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/17/07/reclaiming-downtime
Dr. Tisome Nugent