Tests of reading and math skills regularly show that over the long summer break, young elementary students lose much of what they learned during the school year.
This does not have to be the case. Young children do not have to stop developing reading skills just because school is out. All it takes is a little family reading time each evening, often cut out from passive wasted hours of viewing sitcoms or playing video games.
Ideally, family reading time should become a routine established before children attend school and continuing through the elementary years. It should occur not only in summer, but during the school year as well.
Pre-readers develop a love of reading by being read to. They also receive a lifelong benefit by modeling reading, being allowed to mimic reading simple stories to parents or siblings that they remember from hearing them over and over.
When children develop skills to the point where they spend time in silent reading, parents can ask for a short review of what has been read to earn the reward of a new book.
Children should be encouraged to participate in the library's summer reading program.
As for math, a few counting exercises or simple arithmetic problems each day at home can keep children's skills from slipping. Short math sessions every day are easier to make part of an accepted routine than irregular, lengthier sessions.
Professional teachers are not the only people who children learn from and learning needs to occur beyond the school day.