Parenting, School

Prevent the Summer Slide

What comes to mind when you hear “summer slide?”  NO…it’s not a dance.

Recently I mentioned this term to a group of parents and quickly realized I must shed light on this phenomenon.  

One parent thought it was a dance.  Another experienced a moment of nostalgia recalling warm summer days of using the water hose to wet a long yellow plastic thingy…get a good running start and slide tummy down.

For a moment I was confused, but then I remembered doing that as a kid too! FUN TIMES…but that wasn’t the summer slide I was referencing.

I was referring to the summer slide that occurs during the summer months when kids are out of school. Many parents aren’t aware of this summer slide, but it’s quite REAL.

Kids look forward to the summer for lazy days, family vacations, hanging out at the pool,  late nights and late mornings. In contrast, some kids schedules are filled with sports, camps, and other activities.  Either way, kids aren’t’ sitting around wondering,  “Hmmm…what academic gaps might occur during the summer?” Actually, parents aren’t thinking that either.

It’s necessary to bring awareness to the summer slide.

What is the Summer Slide?

The summer slide refers to the learning loss that occurs during the summer. Academic skills lost during the summer, create gaps in learning for children.  Then, due to the gaps in the learning, the result is children struggling academically during the school year or remaining in a constant state of trying to stay afloat.

Research shows that children who are not involved in some kind of summer learning regress at least two months in math and reading. Imagine cumulative summers of losing learning.

As a former teacher, I experienced this first hand. I looped (meaning I taught the same group of students) with my 4th grade class to 5th grade. I knew the academic standing of each of my 4th graders at the end of the school year. At the beginning of the 5th grade school year, to actually witness the gaps that had occurred during the summer months was mind blowing. 

Parents, the summer slide is REAL! In addition to the lazy days and the jam-packed days, I urge you to provide fun and engaging learning opportunities for your kids that will stimulate their brain.  

How to Prevent the Summer Slide

To prevent the summer slide, your child’s brain must be engaged and challenged throughout the summer. I’m not saying no to television and video games, but there must be more if you want to avoid the terrible summer slide.

It will take some time and effort on your part to research and plan, but positioning your child for success is your number one priority….right? Whenever you need to find information for topics, what do you do? Yes….you google it! Finding summer learning activities for your child is no different. Involve your child in the research, planning process, and create a schedule together. To prevent the summer slide, keep your child mentally stimulated by incorporating these five activities into your summer days:

1.Read. Reading is the foundation to all learning, so be sure your child reads something daily. It doesn’t matter if it’s a magazine, a comic, or a graphic novel. It can be anything! Take advantage of the summer reading programs at your public library and bookstores. The key is to find topics that are relevant and of interest to your child. If your child is a reluctant reader, try audio books. Listening to the audio books will still help develop vocabulary and comprehension skills. Also, I encourage you to read to your child. Younger kids and teens love for their parents to read to them.

2. Practice Math. In addition to finding online math games to practice computations, you can purchase a math workbook online or from your local bookstore. In the education section, there are tons of books by grade level that will provide consistent practice. There are resources for teens as well in the specific math topic for their level. My favorite free online resource that has a plethora of video lessons is khanacademy.

3. Write. Use a special spiral or journal for writing. Encourage your child to write at least once a week. For example, each Sunday write about the happenings of the past week. If your child is fretful about writing, have them draw about the events of the week instead.

4. Fun Science Experiments. Make it a family affair and plan one or two science experiments a month or weekly if you choose. Together, research online and find the experiments you want to try. You can find lots of experiments that do not require many materials.  Make a list of materials needed, determine what you already have and then shop for the rest. The experiments will require reading directions, possibly some type of or math, and maybe writing too. Do you see what just happened here?! Practicing academic skills while having fun. YESSSS to summer learning!

5. Be Involved. Parental involvement is the foundation to preventing the summer slide. Make summer learning a priority. Your kids will follow your lead.

The summer slide is REAL. Summer learning activities are not optional if you want to prevent the summer slide. It’s not too late to start. Make summer fun and engaging!

It takes a village…so

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Teresa S.

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