Kids enjoying summer
Navigating the Summer Slide of SEL

As the school year winds down, adults begin thinking of ways to combat the “summer slide.” Traditionally, this term refers to the academic regression students may experience during the extended break from school. However, the summer slide isn’t limited to academics; social emotional learning (SEL) skills can also take a hit during this time. While summer is a fantastic opportunity for rest and recreation, it’s also crucial to find ways to keep practicing these skills.

Whether you’re a parent or caregiver, or a staff member serving youth during the summer months, here are a few ways to boost these critical life skills, while having fun and making lasting memories:

Enjoy the great outdoors

Take advantage of the summer weather by engaging in outdoor activities that promote social and emotional growth. For example, camping trips can teach teamwork, communication, and problem-solving. Nature walks encourage mindfulness and appreciation for the environment, fostering empathy and emotional regulation. Research shows that outdoor learning is becoming more popular and is proving to help kids develop stronger social and emotional skills. (Source)

Girl playing in leaves

Nature Hunt

Students practice number, color, and shape recognition as they go on a nature hunt.

“I’ve noticed that the children are generally more relaxed when we’re outside. No matter what kind of day we might be having in the classroom, once we go outside, it seems like, it’s just a breath of fresh air and the children are just much more happy and engaged and curious.” – 1st grade teacher

Kids reading outside

6 SEL Books to Read on Summer Break

Looking for a few titles that encourage positive mindsets and have a themed centered around summer break? Check out these books for elementary-aged kids. BONUS: Download our Summer Reading BINGO Card for a fun challenge!

Read a book

Reading books with strong emotional themes can spark discussions about empathy, resilience, and understanding emotions. After reading, encourage children to reflect on the characters’ experiences and relate them to their own feelings and situations, promoting self-awareness and social awareness.

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.” – Marcel Proust

Take a mindful moment

Summer is a great time to introduce mindfulness practices such as meditation, deep breathing exercises, and yoga. These activities help children manage stress, improve focus, and enhance self-regulation skills, promoting emotional well-being.

Kids playing inside a hula hoop

Outburst Shuffle

Students work in pairs to brainstorm ways to reset and relax while having fun.

Community Clean Up

Help students work together to beautify the neighborhood.

Give back to the community

 Engage in community service or volunteer projects as a family or with a group. Serving others cultivates empathy, compassion, and a sense of social responsibility. Whether it’s helping at a local food bank, participating in a beach clean-up, or visiting nursing homes, these experiences strengthen interpersonal skills and empathy.

Go to to find volunteer opportunities in your area.

Encourage creativity

Encourage artistic expression through drawing, painting, music, or crafting. Creative activities allow children to express emotions, develop problem-solving skills, and build confidence. Collaborative art projects or music jam sessions with friends or family members promote teamwork and communication.

Music doodles

Let's Make Some Music

Students create their very own tambourine and learn about making beats.

Maintaining SEL skills over the summer isn’t just about preventing a slide; it’s about ensuring children continue to grow and thrive emotionally and socially. Strong SEL skills contribute to better academic performance, improved mental health, and more positive relationships. By prioritizing these skills during the summer, you set your child up for success in the upcoming school year and beyond.

Keep in mind that learning and growth can happen in various settings and experiences, making the summer months a valuable opportunity to nurture SEL skills in children while creating cherished memories together.

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