Welcome to summer! This is typically a time for kids to kick back, indulge in a little extra screen time, play outside, and embrace the kind of freedom that only comes with being young and having zero responsibilities. However, all of this free time can lead to the summer slide, a regression in academic proficiency due to summer break, and experts warn it is hindering kids’ progress when they head back to school. So, while Summer Slide sounds like a new feature at the local park or splash pad, in reality it isn’t fun at all.
“The concept of the summer slide has been on researchers’ radar since at least 1996, when one of the first comprehensive studies on the phenomenon was published. The study showed that kids lose significant knowledge in reading and math over summer break, which tends to have a snowball effect as they experience subsequent skill loss each year. A more recent study of children in 3rd to 5th grades also showed that students lost, on average, about 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading and 27 percent of their school-year gains in math during summer break.” (Austrew 1)
On average, children lose approximately two months of their reading achievement if they do not read during the summer. They typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they did on the same test at the beginning of the summer. These few months of reading loss accumulate over the years. By the time kids reach middle school, those who haven’t read during the summers may have lost as much as two years’ worth of achievement!
The good news is the Summer Slide can easily be prevented.
HOW DO WE PREVENT THE SUMMER SLIDE?
- Read every day. Read non-fiction, fiction, e-Books, poetry, or newspapers. For a change, read out loud to your family, your pets, yourself, or anyone who will listen. 🙂 You can find book lists for all ages on the American Library Association Page here.
- Enroll in our summer reading program as it will provide your child with opportunities to win prizes for exercising their brain power.
- Cook using recipes. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. Help your child put together their favorite recipes in a cookbook or let your child design the menu for a meal.
- Plant a garden. Your child will learn responsibility and take pride as they watch their plants grow and thrive. Read books about gardening, rocks, and different environments of the world.
- Take a field trip. Head out to a museum, zoo or local park with walking trails. Keep a journal about your travels.
- Learn a new word each week. Hang it on the fridge and see who can use it the most times throughout the week.
- Play quick games with flashcards like Math War or Concentration to keep math skills sharp.
- Listen to audio books during your summer road trip.
- Take pictures and make a summer scrapbook. Encourage your children to write narratives to accompany the pictures. A picture of the library makes a great addition to any scrapbook! 🙂
The following advice from scholastic.com will help keep learning engaging:
- Let kids read what they want.
Children won’t gain as much from summer reading if they aren’t truly enjoying it. Kids should have access to a wide variety of books that they enjoy reading and are fully able to comprehend. They’ll be on board: Nearly 60 percent of children ages 6 to 17 say they love or like reading books for fun a lot, and 52 percent think it’s extremely or very important, according to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report.
- Make time for smart play.
Games and puzzles are a great way for kids to brush up on the basics while having fun at the same time. Whether it’s a game geared specifically toward teaching kids math skills or a learning activity that helps them brush up on vocabulary, such as a sight word mat, there are plenty of ways to get children engaged and help them flex their brain power without turning it into a tutoring session.
- Get out of the house.
Experts have found that novelty stimulates the brain and promotes learning. Visiting a historic site or even simply reading together at the park can help your child get more excited about reading and learning. You can also visit a certain location inspired by the books you read together: For instance, read Hidden Figures, the inspiring true story about four black female mathematicians who helped NASA launch astronauts into space, and then check out a planetarium, bringing up topics covered in the book. This helps reinforce what kids are learning from books in a real-world setting.
- Use your imagination.
Kids who use their imagination are also expanding their vocabularies and experimenting with new concepts. Even though it may not seem like they’re directly “learning” when they’re crafting their own superhero capes out of kitchen towels or dreaming up complex chain reactions with LEGO sets, they’re still calling on familiar skills and developing new ones. You could even play “theater” and put on a show inspired by all of the great summer books you’re reading together.”
- (Austrew, Ashley. “How to Prevent Your Kids from Losing What They Learned in School During Summer Vacation”. Scholastic, June 5, 2019, https://www.scholastic.com/parents/books-and-reading/raise-a-reader-blog/summer-slide.html)