Reducing the Summer Slide

Summer vacation is here for many elementary, high school, and college students.  Associated with it are freedom, fun, and recklessness.  It's usually what students (and teachers) look forward to in the later half of the academic year.  It's a chance to be away from school, do anything, and be irresponsible. 

It's also a chance to forget a significant amount of academic information and decline in reading, writing, and mathematical skills.  It's often referred to as the "summer slide."  Schools and teachers usually have to dedicate the first part of the school year to catch up students on what they lost during summer vacation. 

Based on my experience, here are some ways that students can keep themselves mentally active while promoting their self-development:

Summer School
This isn't just for students who didn't pass a class, it's also for students who want to get ahead.  One of my favorite classes in high school was Art.  I took it during summer school and I loved it.  I learned so much about art technique and art history it instilled a love for art in me.  Sometimes people think I'm an art expert by what I say. 

Summer Camp
There are summer camps for all ages and all interests.  There are camps for sports, science, girl scouts, boy scouts, theatre, and academic day camp.  As a youth, I loved going to different boy scout camps during the summer.  It was a nature retreat where I learned various outdoor skills (archery, fishing, mountain hiking), built strong friendships, and learned a lot about myself.

Summer Job
Getting a summer job is a great way of developing a student's level of responsibility.  It gives students work experience outside of the classroom.  It also helps them learn about the value of hard work and saving.  One of my most fun summer jobs was working as a lifeguard at a water park.  I earned minimum wage, which taught me the value of my time, hard work, and that I needed to discipline myself to save money. 

Volunteering
If all of the above aren't practical, there is always the opportunity to volunteer.  Students can volunteer at hospitals, churches, animal shelters, and other non-profit organizations.  It gives students the benefits of having a summer job but without the income.  In the past, I volunteered at different hospitals.  Not only did I learn basic hospital operations, but how to care for people, answer phone calls, and manage tedious paperwork.  It helped shape what I wanted to do as a career later on (I'm an educator).

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