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Boys’ Learning and Summer Slide

The Playground Slide is the Only “Summer Slide” You Need to Think About this Summer.

I write a lot about boys’ learning.  So why am I telling you that summer is the perfect time for play?  Hear me out.  I keep seeing article after article about summer slide.

A little thought kept popping up in the back of my mind:

There is only one summer slide that people need to be concerned about and that is the one at the playground.

Play is so important to learning.  You need to put play right at the top of your summer learning list for your boys this year.

Summer Slide and The Importance of Play in Boys' Learning | BrainPowerBoy

Summer Slide and Schools

Summer slide is learning loss in which kids “slide back” on the things they have learned over the year.  If, as they say, boys are loosing from 30 – 60% of what they have learned in the past school year just by taking a break over summer it is something to take a look at.   Of course, the standard taking a look at it would mean fixing it by doing more of the same–more worksheets, summer school, and more memorization.

I would ask:  Did the boys learn the topics in the first place?  If someone takes a short break from learning something and they loose 60% of their knowledge on that topic, I have to question if they really learned it at all.  I get that if a boy is in school he has to keep up and not get “behind.”  However, I wonder if we are talking true learning here or rote memorization.

I see that many schools are giving homework over summer to head off summer slide. Seriously?  No way!  Some parents are just saying no–summer is family time. Other schools want parents to give their kids “constructive things” to do over summer.  The issue is that the schools and the parents are picking these “constructive things.”  Think about this–give the boys some freedom to learn what they want to learn and you will see true learning occur.

The Importance of Play and Deep Learning

After reading a ton about learning I think we need to take a step back.  Boys need some time to decompress, relax and play this summer.  Boys’ learning will occur while they are playing, thinking and having fun over summer.  No, it might not be the specific academic learning that they do in school.  But frankly some (not all) of what they learn there is a waste of time.

Once a child has deep learning occur it is easier for their brains to learn other things.  The specific topic of the deep learning does not matter.  It can be anything from Minecraft to sandcastles to birds.  It is the making of connections within the brain that matters.  Deep learning comes naturally through playful learning.

Why Playing this Summer Will Give Boys Opportunities to Learn

What did you do when you were a kid and it was glorious summertime?  Played!  I would bet that you played and played and played.  That was what summer was for.  Relaxing, enjoying being outside, spending time with family, and playing.  Well, that, and for me, it was also about reading whatever I wanted to read, not what someone told me I had to read.  I really didn’t like being told what to read! Did you?

There are a lot of studies that show it is imperative that kids play as it is how they learn. Even with scientific evidence showing the benefits of play, I know people will disagree with me.  I am ok with that.  I will say it anyway:  Kids need to play.  Boys, in particular, need. to. play. I don’t think play is optional.  Play is the very natural way in which children learn. Taking that away from them and replacing it with too many adult-led activities, classes and heavy academics when they are young will have a negative impact on boys and the way they learn.

Why step back and let boys play instead of being all stressed about summer slide? Because play is learning.  Within the context of play, learning is deepened and children retain what they learn. This deep learning will allow their brains to be ready for other deeper learning in the future.  Giving boys time to play this summer may end up being the best thing you could do for their learning lives.

Remember, sometimes you can’t see learning like this the same way you would “see” learning when a child completes a worksheet.

On the other hand, why is it that after completing the worksheet they still don’t know the material? 🙂

If you want more info on ways to set up a boys environment for optimal learning (and playful fun!) see Boys’ Learning Styles and click through to a few different learning styles that fit your boy.

Summer slide concerns are making the summer of our youth disappear.  That is not only a shame, it is a loss for the children of today and those in the future.  The focus on academics is too intense.  I am not saying kids shouldn’t learn.  I am saying that academic learning is not the single best way to learn.  Play and natural learning are important to boys’ learning and we need to protect this time and bring back summer!

Click the links below for a big bunch of fun and playful things to do this summer instead of hitting academics so hard that it makes a boy’s head spin.  Let your boy take a look at the lists and see if anything appeals to him.  If not, just let him be and give him plenty of time to play.

Summer Reading Programs
Fun and Free Summer Activities for Boys, Part 1: Store Programs, Part 2, On the Go!, Part 3, At Home.

Boys' Learning and Summer Slide. Is the playground slide the only slide you need to think about this summer? | BrainPowerBoy

Enjoy, play, relax, and all the while he will be learning!  Plus, and I know you have heard me say this before, you are spending time together and he will always remember these summers of play.  Our boys are only young for a short period of time.  If we allow play based learning to be at the forefront, if only for summertime, the benefits to learning and more importantly to your relationship with your boy, will be strengthened.

Is the playground slide the only summer slide you need to be concerned about in the next few months?  I certainly think so!

Use the sharing buttons below to share this post with others–your support and comments matter so much!

Birute Efe

Saturday 14th of June 2014

Sheila, I agree with you so much. With every single word. I have been having similar thoughts lately...


Saturday 14th of June 2014

Thanks so much Birute. I appreciate the your support of these ideas. Play is ultra important :) Thanks for stopping by.