Summer Slide is the phenomena that occurs when kids are not working very much on academics over the summer vacation. They typically lose at least 2 1/2 months of learning, which means next year's teacher will have to review those concepts before introducing new ones, which means we all begin the year behind. A few suggestions:
1) Start a book club for kids. Invite their friends, cousins-choose a book read it aloud and then have the kids discuss it the way grown-ups in book clubs do. Make it as child-centered as possible. It can even be you and your kid in a tent in the backyard or in beach chairs by an inflatable pool-go with the theme of the story.
2) You don't just have to read books. Recipes, backs of DVD's, comics, magazines-it's all reading. They should still be reading every day.
3) Plant a garden and use it to review science concepts. Measure how tall the flowers got, journal their observations.
4) Speaking of journals, why not make a summer journal. Buy a simple composition book-they can write about their adventures and even save souveniers from trips, etc.
5) Read a chapter book and compare it to the movie. There are so many books that have been made into movies over the past few years, even 2 movies of some. Have the child take part of the story and rework it-give Charlie and the Chocolate Factory a different ending. Change part of the plot and then invent what would happen. What if Despereaux never got out of the dungeon? They can do a puppet show or anything to show their ideas creatively.
Yes, have vacation-the kids do still deserve a break. But to prevent the loss of any academic knowledge, give them opportunties to apply some of the great things they've learned!