Summer Writing For Your Elementary Schooler

Summer slide, or the tendency for students to lose academic knowledge or skills while they are out of school during summer break, is a common concern among parents and educators. For many students, literacy skills see the most regression over the summer, which is why summer writing can be so crucial for families once school lets out.

Practices to Consider

The key to encouraging summer writing, especially for struggling or reluctant writers, is to fuse function with fun. That is, make writing feel less like an assignment and more like an engaging activity by linking it to your child’s everyday summer activities.

  • Grab the sidewalk chalk and help your early elementary-level children with their sight words in the driveway or out front on the sidewalk. Because chalk can be easily brushed/swept or hosed off, children do not need to worry about perfection. Stress the fact that this meant to be a low-risk activity to practice sight words.
  • Continue using sidewalk chalk to write sight words, spelling words, or vocabulary words, but add a layer of complexity by devoting specific colors for consonants and vowels. Extend the challenge by grouping long vowels and short vowels, underlining consonant blends, etc.
  • Practice summarizing, making predictions, and extending or altering the endings of your child’s favorite bedtime story. This activity allows them to tap into their literacy skills and their creativity. It also incorporates choices—they can choose their bedtime story, decide on an alternate ending, or add on to the story to keep it going in whatever direction they’d like.
  • Use a whiteboard on the fridge to start a daily or weekly vocabulary word for the family to learn and practice. Of course, you will want to make sure that the vocabulary term is grade-level appropriate or something that your child would see in school in the coming years. The purpose is to get them excited about and proud of their expanding vocabulary. Add to the challenge by tallying every time your child uses the word properly.
  • Show children that writing can be a great way to wind down, especially at the end of those long summer days filled with physical activities. A leisurely way to settle one’s thoughts is to put them on paper. Encourage a brief daily journaling routine or start a 365 diary. The diaries are meant to capture key takeaways from the day or respond to thought-provoking, open ended questions. At the end of 365 days, your child will have an autobiographical account of their experiences and musings.
  • Frame the writing activities or journaling practices as an experience—designate a specifically cozy spot in the house with cushions and blankets, special pens, markers, and stickers. Play soft, instrumental music in the background and remove distracting technology. Parents should follow the guidelines as well and join in with their own journaling. Turn off the television, silence phones, and immerse yourself in writing for 15-20 minutes to demonstrate how a leisurely routine is cathartic and engaging for everyone.