School is out for the summer, and many students will quickly slide into summer fun. But unfortunately, when educators refer to the term “Summer Slide,” they’re not talking about water slides; instead, they mean the loss of learning that often occurs during the summer months.
“Summer slide” is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.
Research indicates that 2.5 months of reading and 2.5 months of math skills are lost over a summer. Are there exceptions? Of course. Is summer slide” typical? Absolutely.
The summer slide is cumulative, so those lost months increase over time. Over the years combined, by the time a student reaches middle school, they’ve lost the equivalent of two whole calendar years of learning to just summer slide.
Summer learning loss accounts for two-thirds of the 9th-grade achievement gap in reading between students from low-income households and their higher-income peers. Students with access to books over the summer see significantly more gains in reading scores from spring to fall than students from high-income households with access to books and those from low-income families without access to books. Differences in children’s summer learning experiences during elementary school can ultimately impact whether they earn a high school diploma or continue college.
Students need summer break, and so do teachers. So, what’s the solution? Many school districts have implemented a different calendar, which shortens summer break but lengthens breaks throughout the school year. They’re often called flexible calendars. They’re proving beneficial for academics and retention and the students’ and teachers’ overall physical and mental health.
We don’t have much say over individual school district calendars. However, providing educators and parents opportunities to commit their students to do one simple task every day in the summer to prevent summer slide is an excellent way to avoid learning loss while preparing for the upcoming school year.
How do we address the summer slide?
Students need access to books. The public library is a great resource, and several teachers also send books home for the summer. Students need to continue to read and write over the summer. Read a book and write a few sentences each day, if nothing else.
Learning can be fun! Students can play word games, “I Spy,” using sounds and letters, flashcards, and subscriptions to their learning curriculum, and games, are great resources too!
Literacy is a primary focus, but we can’t forget about math. Playing games like Chutes & Ladders or Candy Land that requires counting and Simon Says are methods for young children to have fun, engage, and practice their math skills. In addition, daily counting routines, number hunts, and using counters are simple ways to implement math practice.
Curriculum companies can quickly provide summer slide intervention through online resources and “tips of the day” for teachers and parents to receive via email or through a community app like Remind.
Our students don’t need to slide this summer. Instead, there’s ample opportunity to help students avoid the summer slide and move up the ladder yearly between dedicated teachers, an innovative curriculum, and technology.
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