The Summer Slide: 5 Ways to Keep Your Children Productive

Special needs mom, Clinical and School Psychologist
07/06/20  2:46 PM PST
children summer
By the end of summer 2020, our children will have physically been out of school for 6 months. This article features 5 tips for scheduling your children’s days to slow that ‘summer slide.’

The time is finally here! It’s summertime, but at the same time (in NJ), many of our camps have shut down. Many of our vacation plans are tentative or have been canceled. We are all looking at long days that seem to have no schedule, no routine and no plan. For many of us parents, we are still working; some of us are even returning to our office buildings to resume in-person work. The question that sits before me as I look, adoringly, over my 3 children, is “What are they going to do for the next 10 weeks?”

If you’re anything like me, I worry deeply about how much instruction my children have lost. Not only are all our children going to experience the usual 3-month summer slide, but now our children will be experiencing the 6-month summer slide. What can we do to slow down the decline in skills and get our kids ready for September? I have a few ideas!

Hire a Tutor

There are many teachers, high school students and college students who are available to provide instruction to our children in a specific subject or area where your child doesn’t thrive as easily as in other areas. If you’re looking for specialized curriculum, like Orton-Gillingham, you will need to find a teacher with training or certification.

Set a 4 Day Schedule

Keep your summer schedule light and easy. That is, set up the expectation for your child or children that they will work on schoolwork 4 days per week with a 3 day weekend. A 5 day schedule may seem overwhelming and decrease your child’s motivation.

Create a Daily Schedule

If you have pre-teens or teens, you will want to build in time for your child to sleep in, and then set a time that he will begin reading or working on math. Ideally, schoolwork is best completed in the morning when energy and motivation is still high. Any work that is attempted after 3p will likely not be completed. For the remainder of the day, your child may want the flexibility to set her agenda however she likes, as long as her reading and writing work has been completed.

Let the App Take Care of That

If your children are anything like mine, they dread having me lead their instruction (and I dread it too). Allow your child to practice skills using apps or software programs that are visual, colorful and maybe even fun! Avoid workbooks and worksheets if you can as they are a huge turn off to every child everywhere.

Set the Timer

We all know that we have our ideal amount of time during which we can focus and complete work. For some, that time span is 10 minutes, 25 minutes, 35 minutes or 45 minutes. Instead of looking at what can be an endless amount of time to work on a subject or skill, set a timer. Once it rings, stop. Set another time for a 3- or 5-minute break and then get back into it. Small chunks of time, small chunks of work and it gets done without a ton of blood, sweat and tears.

Keep it simple and easy this summer. I wish us all a restful and productive summer!


Dr. Liz Matheis


Dr. Liz Matheis is a licensed Clinical Psychologist and certified School Psychologist who specializes in working with children with ADHD, Anxiety, Autism, Learning Disabilities, and behavioral struggles. She is also mom to three children, one with special needs. Her practice, Psychological and Education Consulting, is located in Livingston, New Jersey.

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