Summer Slide: Are your kids bored?

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Researchers, parents, and teachers have been concerned about “summer slide” for decades. In this series of posts, we explore what this really means for kids with concrete steps that parents can take to help.

Boredom is normal especially during the summer when kids don’t have their normal school routine.

If you find it annoying when your kids come to you saying that they’re bored, that’s completely normal. Don’t feel guilty that they don’t have enough to do or that you’re responsible for keeping them entertained. The less you take the lead in fixing their boredom, the less likely they’ll come to you the next time they’re bored.

Here are some things you can try at home:

Create a jar filled with ideas for activities and have them pull one out whenever they don’t know what to do. Creating the jar together could make them more excited to use it than if you make it yourself.

Let them figure out what to do themselves. Learning how to manage their boredom is a skill like any other - and you can help them build that skill little by little. The first time they say they’re bored, offer a couple ideas for activities or take turns coming up with ideas. The second time they’re bored, help them brainstorm ideas but let them take the lead. Then the next time, warmly and firmly encourage them to go through the process themselves.

If you ask your kids to do chores and they complain that they’re bored, try giving them something new to do or something more challenging. Not surprisingly, boredom is more common during activities that are too easy or too repetitive (Haager et al., 2016; Nakamura & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).

Encourage them to read! Reading is one way to try to keep kids from falling behind over the summer (Allington et al., 2010). More on this here.

Allington, R. L. , McGill-Franzen, A., Camilli, G., Williams, L., Graff, J., Zeig, J., Zmach, C., & Nowak, R. (2010). Addressing summer reading setback among economically disadvantaged elementary students. Reading Psychology, 31(5), 411–427.

Haager, J. S., Kuhbandner, C., & Pekrun, R. (2016). To be bored or not to be bored - How task-related boredom influences creative performance. The Journal of Creative Behavior, 52(4), 297-304.

Nakamura, J., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). The concept of flow. In C. R. Snyder & S. J. Lopez (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology (pp. 89-105). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.