When education experts talk about summer slide, they’re not talking about your kids enjoying the play equipment in the park (although that’s an activity we would certainly encourage you to do!).


Summer slide is when, over summer break, kids forget some of what they learned during the school year—often measured in terms of reading scores. This means kids wills go back to school in the fall at a lower achievement level than when they left in May or June.


Many of us are parents too, so we understand the concern over this phenomenon. To find out what we can do about, we hopped online and started digging.


Sending your child to summer school is one option, but The Brookings Institution says that home-based activities can also work.  Experts say the key to prevention is keeping your kids reading and learning. Since it’s summer, that can be a bit challenging given the appeal of screen time — but then we wondered: why not fight technology with technology?


We reached out to TDS, one of our sponsors, to brainstorm some simple ideas for using tech tools to prevent summer brain drain…and we added a little Tri 4 Schools flare in as well. Check out these simple ideas:

  1. High-tech ways to find great books to read. Sometimes kids wouldn’t mind reading…if they find something that actually interests and excites them. “Back in the day, you may have used a card catalog or just walked the library aisles, to try and find things to read,” says Missy Kellor from TDS. “Now there are lots of online resources parents and kids can use before you even leave the house.” Here are just a few:
    • Scholastic Book Wizard. Pop open this website with your child and start exploring books by genre, subject, or grade. The visual search is sure to appeal!
    • The Lexile Framework for Reading. Books that are too hard will frustrate kids, and ones that are too easy may be boring. Make sure your child has a “just right” book by using this online tool. If your child was given a Lexile score from school, you can use it to help find books. If not, that’s okay too—it will make recommendations based on your child’s grade level.
    • Explore the Newberry , Caldecott, and Coretta Scott King Award winners—from this year, and since the awards began. These books are considered the best of the best for stories and pictures so they’re a great place to start a search.

Once you’ve picked out picked some books at home, see if your library has a website or app and teach your child how to use it. Many library systems allow you to search for books and place holds so you can pick up your books where it’s most convenient for you.

  1. Novel ways to fetch great books to read. Once your child knows what they want to look for at your local library, why not change up how you go get them?
  • Pedal or promenade for pages: if you live close enough, leave the car at home and bike or walk to the library (or Bookmobile, if there’s one in your area). Kids that are used to sitting in the back seat may really enjoy the adventure of packing up for a different kind of trip. Tip: Be sure to wear backpacks so you can haul your new reading material home!
  • Bus to books: kids who don’t routinely take public transportation can learn a life skill by researching and taking routes to the library (with you, of course) to score some great books.
  • Route to reading: when driving is the best option, engage your kids before you head out the door and see if you can plan some alternate driving routes—maybe ones that have points of interest along the way. Pull up an online map, but let your kids find a fun way to get there and act as your on-board GPS in the car.

Here’s the key: keep the commute to the library fun and it may help inspire more trips for books, and more reading.

  1. Send your kids to virtual summer camp. We love this idea of online summer camps from Common Sense Media. Keep their minds stimulated by expanding on what they learned last year, or introduce something entirely new. From fun DIY and creative learning options, to learning to code with Google and Kahn Academy, there are all kinds of options. Some are free, and some might cost you a little—but compared to the price of in-person camp they’re a bargain.


  1. Maybe let them play a little Minecraft. At least one organization suggests using the uber-popular video game to keep kids learning in the summer—and after doing some digging, we don’t think they’re too off base. There is much chatter online about how educational this video game it really is (The Atlantic and {coda}kid, just to name a few). Missy from TDS says, “Microsoft even has a something called MakeCode for Minecraft, a tool designed help kids learn to code while playing.” Even if your kids don’t want to do that, encourage your child to read more about the game, and/or create some projects they have to tackle using math, area, or multiplication.


Of course, in between reading, camp, and Minecraft, plan other outdoor activities so your kids are sure to stay active.

paul kudrle sun prairie kids tri 2018