Summer Learning For Students
Today is the last day of school for my students. As a well-intentioned teacher, I gave my students “homework” to complete over the break. Sadly, the majority of my students won’t even crack a book. The reality is that many students will sleep more, play video games, and may rarely leave the house. These are very common summer activities for students in lower-income schools. Not everyone will go on vacation or have money for “extra” activities.
As educators, we have first-hand experiences with the dreaded yearly trend and try to combat the Summer slide by being proactive. Basically, a summer slide occurs when students regress in learning over the course of their summer break. Typically learning loss occurs because students have a less structured day and may lack access to resources to foster learning. Some districts have created learning opportunities for their students or may even offer year-round school as an option. However, there are many things parents and educators can do to make it not feel like “school” and encourage learning throughout the summer for elementary students in many content areas.
Outdoor education is basically learning through exploration. Summer camps are a great way to have students learn about the world around them. Students can learn about science by actually being in nature. There are day camps or clubs as well as overnight experiences for all age levels and many are low or no cost.
Music, art, and sensory activities also encourage exploration. Students need experience in these areas as well to become well-rounded citizen and build background knowledge for future learning. Many of these activities can be accomplished with everyday household items.
Fitness activities help students understand the importance of maintaining an active lifestyle by walking and riding their bikes. Our district offers a free week-long sports camp by teaming up with local organizations to make this possible. Our district encourages bicycle safety by giving away bicycle helmets and a few bikes through local business sponsorships.
Encourage the use of vocabulary through talking and journaling. Not only do we see academic losses over the summer but decreased stamina to accomplish a task. Setting a timer and slowly increasing the time with a task is one way to develop attention span.
Summer school learning opportunities have increased over the past few years. Now with limited Covid funds, our district has scaled back our summer school this year. However, there are many online resources that parents can utilize that increase learning. Schools and districts can
compile lists and offer them to parents. Online subscriptions can be used yearly instead of just for the number of “school days”. Educational games are a great way to engage students.
Summer Reading programs can provide incentives for completing goals. Public libraries and bookstores may even collaborate with schools. Typically they run from May-July and can be completed either online or in person. Free summer lunch programs may also collaborate with local school districts to provide free books to students.
By providing students with opportunities to learn through these less structured daily activities they can continue to develop academically, physically, and socially. By utilizing community resources and advocating for their use we can help students to reverse the summer slide. As stakeholders, you play a key role in supporting student learning during the summer.
Written by: Teresa Marchant
School Librarian at LOCKWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT 26
Teresa has been an educator for over 25 years. She holds a Masters in Educational Technology with an emphasis in Online Instruction from Montana State University as well as a certificate in School Library Media from the University of Washington. Over the years she has served in many capacities at the state and local level. Highlights include being the Vice Chair of the Certification Standards and Practices Advisory Council to the Montana Board of Public Education, a member of the School Leadership Team and Chair of the Professional Development Committee for her school district, and a member of Montana Library Association board. She loves learning and enjoys helping others!
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