The Summer Slide. Although it sounds similar, we’re not talking about the winding, bright red or yellow ones at the park where you yell “wee” and you land in a warm pit of sand. The Summer Slide, also known as Summer Learning Loss or the Summer Slump, is when students forget the skills that they learned during the school year. It might not seem like a big deal and you may even think that our kids deserve a break from school during the summer months, but, taking an extended vacation from academics has some pretty damaging effects. Studies show that students who experience Learning Loss each summer can fall up to three years behind by the time they reach fifth grade. But, instead of lamenting on the statistics about the Summer Slide and it’s role in the Achievement Gap or the Opportunity Gap, NFB is going to share some ways to beat the Summer Slide.
1. Read Baby, Read!
We’ve all heard it before, “Reading is fundamental.” And while it’s a cliche, it’s true. Research shows that by reading six books over the summer you can help prevent summer learning loss. Your child having a hard time picking a good book? Use some of these strategies and remember that all text is good text! Newspapers, comic books, articles, blogs, and even watching T.V. with the closed captions on, can help your child practice their reading skills.
2. Summer Journal
Nationwide, students are struggling with writing. Whether your child is struggling with basic handwriting and capitalization or working on sophisticated dialogue and “Show not Tell”, a summer journal will take your child’s writing to the next level. A summer reading journal can take many forms. You can decorate a composition notebook, have your child type their journal entries in Microsoft Word or GoogleDocs. Your child can write about their day, write about their surroundings, keep a reading log, or they can use Scholastic’s 75 Summer Writing Prompts. I particularly like the last one because you can all answer the prompts as a family and siblings can share their writing and help each other edit and improve their work as a team.
3. Field Trips
Not able to chaperone or pay for a school field trip during the academic year? Why not go on your day off or take a vacation day to do it? Kids have so much fun learning at their own pace at an interactive science exhibit, a nature walk, or even an art museum. If your child is Pre-K or Kindergarten age in the New York City area, you can sign-up for a Cool Culture Pass and get into 90 culture institutions (botanical gardens, museums, or zoos) for free. Even if you don’t live in the Tri-State area, many museums offer discounted prices for school-age children. If you’re not sure about the museums near you, do a quick Google search or just check out this list of 20 Free Museums across the U.S.
I personally spent every summer using these workbooks. These workbooks are leveled by grade, range from Pre-K to 8th grade, have incentives, and have work for all subjects. What I liked (read as: what my parents liked) about the Summer Bridge books is that you can buy a book a few grade levels above your child’s to provide a little extra push or challenge. If your child is a more hands-on learner, try-out Summer Bridge’s Explorations; a series of mini-projects that keep your kids engaged with real-life applications that use all of their core subjects. The regular workbooks are about ten bucks and the Exploration books are about thirteen dollars. These Summer Bridge activities are easy-to-use, affordable, and extremely popular- a timeless way to beat the Summer Slide.
5. Community-Based Organizations (CBOs)
NFE is all about building up and using our community. Go to your local YMCA or sign up at your local library for free summer programs, free summer camps, or reading challenges. If your library or local community center is too far away or if you worry about your kids getting their by themselves, you can always host a book-club or a reading challenge at your house or at your local park. If that fails, you can always look on Pinterest for different summer projects.
How do you keep your kids learning during the summer months? What are some fun summer learning activities you did as a kid? Share your ideas and experiences with your fellow NFE families in the comment section below so we can beat the Summer Slide!