How to keep kids healthy and learning over summer break
Summer break is a great time for kids to shrug off the pressure of school and have some fun, but months away from school can also lead to some learning loss and unhealthy habits. Zachary Wood, MD, explained how parents can help keep their kids healthy and learning over the summer break, while still making time for plenty of fun.
What impact does summer break have on children’s health?
“Summer break has a lot of impact on children’s health, both positive and negative,” Dr. Wood said.
On the positive side, it allows more one-on-one time and bonding between kids and their parents. It also allows kids to become immersed in summertime activities such as camping, summer sports and summer camp.
However, there are some noted setbacks. “There is some loss of knowledge that was gained over the school year,” Dr. Wood said, “and it does take kids time to relearn that content in the fall.”
In addition, there are several health hazards that kids are exposed to over the summer, including a more sedentary lifestyle and being indoors, as well as a higher risk for dehydration from being outside in the heat without drinking enough water. Kids also have a higher risk of injuries related to outside sports such as skateboarding, bicycling, or riding an AVT.
Why is reading important?
“Reading is critical for the growth and development of any child’s brain at any stage,” Dr. Wood said. “From the newborn all the way up to the teenager going up to college, reading and the importance of it cannot be understated.”
For younger kids, reading regularly helps them grow their vocabulary and teaches them how to speak. For older kids, it helps to increase their knowledge and allows them to experience worlds outside their own. For adolescents and teenagers, it becomes a way of expression and can guide them on the trajectory of life.
How much learning do kids typically lose over the summer break?
“Students can lose up to one month of reading progress and up to two months of math progress over the summer if they need more support in these areas,” Dr. Wood said. “Studies have shown that summer city programs or educational opportunities provide resources and prevent these learning losses over all age groups.”
What are some ways parents can minimize that learning loss?
Parents can play an important role in minimizing learning loss by being involved. Structured programs such as afternoon or summer scheduled activities, including reading, writing and mathematics, provided the most significant protection against summer learning loss. However, even having your kids read at home for 15 to 30 minutes a day and work out math problems with parents that are done on a day-to-day basis will also prevent a substantial amount of learning loss.
What can parents do to keep kids healthy over the summer?
Dr. Wood said getting up and staying active is essential to keeping kids healthy over the summer.
“The same activity we recommend for kids every day, 60 minutes or more of unstructured but supervised activity, is critical for kids,” he said. “However, parents need to be mindful based on what their kids want to do. For instance, when our kids are outside, we should be sure that they drink the appropriate amount of water to stave off dehydration. In addition, they should also apply sunscreen consistently and repeatedly every time they go outside. When outside playing in the pool or other body of water, young kids should always be supervised, and no body of water should be able to be accessed by a child without escort from an adult.”
Get kid-friendly care
Our pediatric experts can help your kids and teens be their healthiest.Find a Pediatric Doctor