Using Philosophy to Avoid the Summer Slide!


The end of the school year is approaching (in some places, it’s already upon us). Your kids are probably giddy with anticipation, and itching to spend their days in sweet repose. You, however, are probably a little on edge, both at the prospect of keeping them busy and out of trouble, and at the notion that after a couple of months off, they may get a little out of shape, academically speaking. There are ways, however, to keep little thinkers occupied and entertained, while avoiding the “summer slide” away from everything they’ve learned at school this past year. Best of all, you can achieve both without it feeling like you’re giving extended homework.

Summer is the perfect time to engage a kids’ inner philosopher, and to help them learn how to think, instead of what to think. Best of all, the thinking skills they practice during their break will help them get back in the saddle once school starts again. Here are a few suggestions that will keep the neurons firing, without having to sacrifice summer fun:

  • Popsicle Chef Contest! Work with your little food critics to create frozen treats that are delicious, and also some that are disgusting (pickle popsicles, anyone?). Hold a taste test, and once the moans and groans have subsided, discuss the difference between something aesthetically pleasing, and something gross. Is there really such a big gap between the two, or is it just a matter of taste?
  • While playing outdoor games, discuss the idea of fairness. Should everyone get the same number of turns? How do you decide who goes first? Who makes the rules, and what should you do when someone breaks them?
  • Take advantage of all the bugs that summer brings! Make a list of all the ones your child considers friendly, and all of the ones they think are pests. Is there really a difference? Why do humans feel warm and fuzzy about some creatures, while others give us the willies?

As always, try to make sure discussion follows rules of good reasoning, such as:

  • Don’t say things like “just because” or “because I said so.” Always explain why you think what you think.
  • Everyone should have an opportunity to share their ideas, and should be respectful of others.
  • It’s fine to disagree with one another, but not okay to get angry about it.

Capture these amazing summer moments with pictures and videos, not just because it’s useful to reflect on ideas afterwards, but because it’s always nice to remind your kids how smart, creative and amazing they are.

If you need even more help keeping kids thinking over the summer, check out our books, apps, and parent/teacher materials.

Happy summer to thinkers big and little! May it be filled with marvelous, big questions, and lots of wonderful discussions!