We’re not talking about besting your time headfirst down one of the UAE’s waterslides. The summer slide is a little different and how to avoid it is a question that comes up a lot in conversations Clarion School Educators have with parents.

We, at Clarion School, have found that some children return from summer break having forgotten some of the skills or knowledge they learned in school the previous year – they slide back a little requiring teachers to spend time bringing children up to the level of the grade they are in currently. So as concerned parents, where and how do we strike the balance? We want to set up our children for success in school and life beyond school, while at the same time allowing them to just be kids and enjoy their summer.

There are two essentials that every family should facilitate for their children during the summer months: play and reading. Educators agree, these are the best two tools at your disposal to beat the summer slide.

“Play is child’s work and essential to their development, growth and education. Through play children explore their world and learn about themselves, others, and their environment,” Kim Taylor, Academic Advisor Clarion School, said. Play varies from age to age. When they’re older play tends to be more complicated and involved. When they’re younger it’s more individual. You’ll notice pre-ks playing side by side rather than together. While playing children are free to make decisions, create scenarios and let their imagination go wild.

Parents’ main concern is keeping their children’s math and reading skills well honed through the summer. A great way to sharpen both is cooking. Consider taking your children into the kitchen to prepare family meals – an excellent way to play for older kids and a great exploration for the younger ones. It’s also a great way to review math, develop coordination, and explore science and so much more – all by bringing the learning to life. They will explore fractions, solve world problems, weigh, measure, pour, stir, create science experiments and observe what happens for example when water or butter are heated, or when salt dissolves. The opportunities for growth and learning are endless, plus you have the advantage of sharing the joys of cooking and eating their creations.

Reading is critical to the development of a child’s mind. Make the time through the summer months to read out loud to your children and their group of friends. Reading at home is proven to stimulate and strengthen the part of their brain associated with visual imagery, story comprehension and word meaning. Reading improves vocabulary and spelling and develops a child’s imagination. It helps children develop empathy and it’s a great form of entertainment. Because of all this, children who read or are read to tend to develop their emotional intelligence, have wonderfully colorful imaginations and do better at school.

Even nonreaders or pre-readers can experience the wonder and myriad advantages of reading. Story time is together time and children learn from watching the reader’s facial expressions and hearing the intonations of the voice. Books trigger the imagination as well as questions that develop into wonderful conversations. Even quietly exploring picture books on their own can be an important part of children’s development – an early peek into independent learning.

Give your child a leg up this summer and beat the summer slide by keeping them playing and reading. By the time school rolls around again, they’ll be so excited to jump into it and share all the adventures they had on and off the page! And at Clarion School, we’ll be waiting to hear all about them!

Join Clarion School for our weekly Story Corner every Wednesday at the Dubai Garden Centre where we bring books to life.