The summer break from school brings exciting vacations, uninterrupted playtime, plenty of hot sunshine, and relaxing mornings sleeping in. The sound of water play and screams of joy fill the air with summer bliss for months. While the “summer slide” may sound like the embodiment of summertime well spent, this phenomenon is anything but adventurous.
“The Summer Slide” is when students become stagnate in their development or lose skills that were obtained in the previous school year due to lack of structure, routine, and lost access to educational resources. Researchers have found that summer learning loss is responsible for two-thirds of the development gap between low income students and their peers. Foundational skills required for the fall semester can be forgotten by the time the new school year rolls around. Students who experience summer slide start the new school year behind their peers before the bell even rings for the first time.
The Effects of Summer Slide
- Inability to begin new lessons. Students who have lost the skills required to begin new lessons are already behind on the first day of school. They can’t pick up where they left off in the prior school year. Valuable time in the classroom is spent re-learning important skills before children can begin learning new things, and teachers are required to modify lesson plans to effectively engage students.
- Loss of structure and routine. Adjusting to the structure and routine of a school day is not something that comes easily for many children. Re-teaching proper procedures and setting expectations is typically necessary at the start of a new school year, but this can be extremely challenging for student who have experienced summer slide.
It takes patience and persistence from both teachers during the school year and guardians at home to ensure that children remain challenged, engaged and excited to learn year-around. And prevention is key! Great learners aren’t built overnight, but they are built – one day, one year, one summer at a time.
Teachers use certain instruction styles to help promote retention and prevent summer slide during the school year by bringing the lessons of the “real world” into the classroom. Using real-life examples in lessons helps students draw meaning out of everyday life. You might see this style of instruction play out in open-ended projects throughout the school year where students pick their own topics in areas of study.
So, how can you as a parent come alongside your child’s teachers to prevent summer slide? We’ve provided a list of ideas for you to try at home!
- Engage with your student daily. Taking time to engage with your student daily is essential to helping them retain fundamental skills required for learning. Asking questions, challenging them, creating fun learning games to help them explore their environment are simple ways that you can engage with your child and help them continue learning and growing through their fun summer activities.
- Establishing and maintaining a routine is the key to foundational learning. Children need order and structure in their daily lives to feel safe and secure enough to try new things and expand their horizons. The structure that works for one family and one child may not suit another, however, so finding a daily routine that is healthy for your individual child and family is key.
- Read summer stories. Grab a book (or a whole series!) to enjoy with your child over the summer. Read it to your child out loud or let them read it to you. Read for just a few minutes every day – perhaps at night before bed. You can have your child speculate and write their own ending to the story, draw pictures, act out different scenes from the story – the possibilities are limitless. Tying in fun, creative projects and activities to your summer story is a great way to make the most of these efforts, and it’s a sure way of maintaining a learning environment.
- Go on adventures together. Adventures are as wide and expansive as your child’s and your own imagination. Go places, explore new environments, learn new things, and experience all that summer has to offer – together! Technology and traditional teaching resources may not always be available, but the resources of the imagination are limitless.
Don’t slide – just glide! Keep the forward movement of learning over the summer, and your child will hit the ground running in the Fall. School will be back in session before you know it!