Why It’s Time to Relax About the Dreaded “Summer Slide”

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When your kids got their report cards on the last day of school, did you breathe a sigh of relief that you were done worrying about their scholastic achievement until September?

Did you skip down the halls singing, “no more pencils, no more books…”?

Guess again. Studies have shown that children will lose about a month of overall academic progress during the summer and most will lose approximately two months in math skills. It’s called the “summer slide” and it’s just one more thing for parents stress out about.

Except, is it really?

We checked in with two experts and they both said basically the same thing: if you want to create study schedules for your kids over the summer, that’s fine… but if you don’t, it’s not the end of the world.

“So many parents have come to me, freaked out about [summer slide] and wanting to make sure it doesn’t happen,” said Dr. Angelina Morales, a clinical psychologist who specializes in children and adolescents.  “But it really all depends on your child.”

For example, if your child struggles with writing, you may want to set aside a few times a week for him or her to write in a journal. But if they’re doing well in most subjects or taking part in a camp or program with an academic component, you may not need to do much extra at home.

“Honestly, I’m a big believer that summer should be as fun as possible,” said Morales, who has two young children of her own.

This goes for moms as well as kids. “Summer is supposed to be the time of year when even parents get somewhat of a break from carpooling and packing lunches and waking up early for school,” said Dr. Ivy Margulies, a clinical psychologist specializing in maternal mental health.

Instead, we sign our kids up for an endless gauntlet of camps and classes, trying to cram educational and enriching activities into every minute of the day.

“We’ve created a society where women are always feeling less than, in general. We feel like we need to have everything perfect all the time: to have it all and raise our kids and go to work and still serve a hot meal every night. But summer shouldn’t be about pressure. It should be a time for families to relax and reconnect.”

Margulies suggests parents find ways to introduce educational moments throughout the course of the day.  “My family loves to play the license plate game. We see a license plate and then maybe we’ll look up a fun fact about the state or talk about what it might be like to visit.”

So the next time you start to get worked up about the fact that your child isn’t spending their break learning Mandarin/mastering chess/testing out of high school calculus – take a deep breath and remember these words of wisdom:

“The only thing kids need over the summer is the freedom to play outside and look at bugs and rocks and learn and grow and explore in the sunshine.”

To help you create more organic educational moments, we’ve put together Babble’s Ultimate Summer Bucket List:


Over the next few weeks, we’ll share tons of great ideas for family-friendly activities, crafts, recipes and more. Just look for the hashtag #SummerBucketList to join in the fun!  

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