It’s well known amongst professional educators that over the summer months academic ability can drop by up to a whole grade level, a phenomenon known as the ‘summer slide’. And it’s not just isolated to school kids. The demographics in the longitudinal study mentioned in this article on Slowing the Summer Slide included students up to the age of 22!

Now I’ve no desire to be the proverbial summer holiday party pooper, so here are some useful tips you can implement over the long break to ensure your reading and writing neurons stay relatively fit and functional, so you avoid the ‘summer slide’.

Find some good novels to read

This probably goes without saying but after 9 months of academic reading your brain will need a break and reading different text types will provide it. Reach for some well-written titles that will at least stretch your vocabulary rather than any old badly written ‘bumpf’ just because it’s popular. I’m thinking 50 Shades of a certain colour and any other random ‘chick lit’!

Booker Prize winners are a good place to start, or get your hands on some classic titles that you may have had on your list of must-reads for a while. Plenty of these now come in kindle and/or audio format, if you prefer. In fact, offers a 30 day free trial via Amazon.

Of course, you don’t have to use Amazon. Waterstones offers a 10% discount with your UniDays account and lists some useful books for students including bestsellers.

Write reviews or a blog

To practice your writing skills without feeling it’s impinging on your summer enjoyment keep a journal or write some book reviews. Or even write some other product reviews about stuff you love. That will give you practice writing other text types and you can use it as an opportunity to expand and develop your vocabulary.

If you’re travelling over the summer or heading off on a big adventure you could write a blog. Set up a blog page using WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr (or any other blogging platform) so that you can update it via a mobile device then you can write and upload your posts on the move. The fact you’re writing for an audience should motivate you into drafting and editing your blog before it’s finalized which is exactly the approach you should be using for assignment writing.

If you barely read or write anything for 3 months except Instagram and Facebook updates or twitter feeds, then your reading and writing skills will definitely suffer. So, aim to keep your read-write neurons fit and functional over the summer break.

Whatever your plans, have an fabulous and enjoyable holiday but aim to at least maintain your reading and writing skills so you’re ready for the challenges of the next academic year.