You may have heard of “summer slide” – when those summer months cause kids to lose all that glorious information and knowledge they acquired during the school year.

Not to worry. You can help dampen this effect by making sure kids use their brains over the summer. The only requirement: make it fun.

Here are a few ideas to keep your children’s brains busy during vacations from school:

Study Buddies

Whether your children pair up with just one friend or an entire crowd, consider making studying a social event. Add some festivity to the affair by serving snacks and desserts. If the weather is nice, take the study party outdoors.

Even if there is no official studying to do over break, kids can keep their minds moving with supplemental learning. For example, if your child studied “As I Lay Dying” in school, make a movie night of it. Pop some popcorn and invite his or her friends over to watch the film version of the novel.

Fun Learning Tools

Consider online learning tools that use creative techniques to engage students. For example, Shmoop, an online curriculum and test prep provider, offers original content that is fun without being cheesy. For example, the site has a “Pride and Prejudice” course which asks students to create OkCupid profiles for Lizzy, Jane, and Lydia Bennet.

Even if it’s not 100 percent related to what your child is studying, fun tools and content can spark new interests,” says David Siminoff, founder and chief creative officer of Shmoop.

For example, the site’s “Shakespearean Translator” translates anything students type into “super authentic Shakespearean English,” turning even resistant readers into Shakespeare aficionados. Additionally, the site has online courses on subjects that will definitely keep kids’ brains stimulated without feeling like a snoozefest. For example, short courses like “Breaking Bad as Literature,” “The World According to Dr. Seuss,” and “Bruce Springsteen’s America,” can make learning a treat.

Educational Videos

It’s no surprise that kids love television and movies. So why not mimic the experience with educational videos? Whether it’s a historical documentary or a math-oriented instructional video, the audiovisual format is a great vessel for many learners – especially those on vacation.


For students who need motivation beyond the pursuit of knowledge or the satisfaction of better grades, consider a rewards system. Offering prizes for books read or lessons completed could be just the encouragement needed to get kids focused on academics over the summer months. Shmoop’s “Math Shack” takes this concept to heart, awarding badges and “Shmoints,” a virtual currency. No matter what your child is learning, a bit of material incentive can prove useful when helping kids set and achieve goals. Cookies can’t hurt, either.