Ask An Expert: Helping Students Avoid the Summer Slide
When the school year ends, teachers are happy to have a break from the drudgery of the school year, but they also want students to avoid the summer slide. The summer slide occurs when children lose some of the academic skills and dispositions that they gained during the school year due to the absence and scarcity of quality learning activities during summer vacation. As the old saying goes, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
To succeed academically, children need continuous opportunities to acquire new skills and practice existing ones. This need is especially heightened during the summer months, because children do not have the privilege of being educated by certified teachers. When we think of the summer months, we think of a happy carefree time when children can have fun and unwind. However, we forget about the potential learning opportunities that we can expose our children to. In order to make sure that your students do not experience the summer slide, here are some suggestions that your can give to their parents.
• Summer Programs: Many public and private schools run summer programs for their students. Take advantage of them. They are usually for only half a day and allow flexibility for summer vacations. Contact your child’s school to find out if they offer summer programs.
• Family Reading Program: Set up a summer reading program with your child in which they choose an agreed upon number of grade level books to read per month. Make sure that you consult the child’s teacher or a librarian for advice. In order to show solidarity, the entire family should participate.
• Specialized Summer Camps: Enroll your child in a specialized summer camp. These camps are fun and incorporate hands on activities into their curriculum as well. Some of the more popular ones include computer, science and math camps.
• Pick the Teachers Brain: Conference with your child’s current or next teacher and ask them to suggest summer workbooks, science activities, essay topics, and interesting summer activities for your child. You may even be able to elicit their help in assessing your child’s performance.
• Summer Enrichment: Summer is also a good time to fill in learning gaps. If you know that your child is weak in a particular subject, you may want to set up an enrichment program. Of course, as always, consult with your child’s teacher.
• Learning While Vacationing: If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, you can turn it into a social studies activity. Ask your child to research the destination’s history, cuisine, popular attractions, etc. Also, once you reach your vacation destination, you can schedule tours of famous landmarks and locations, which will increase their social studies knowledge.
• Summer Journaling: Ask them to write a daily journal of all of the things that they learn each day. Remember, you will need to orchestrate learning activities for your children, because you can’t trust that they will be able to do it on their own.
• Turn Daily Activities Into Learning Opportunities: If you’re at the grocery store with your kids, challenge them to add up the total cost of your purchase. Driving to grandmother’s house? Ask them to find certain colors, shapes, or patterns along the way. If you’re dealing with older kids, think of appropriate variations.
• Learning Locally: Don’t forget about the local park, museum, zoo, aquarium, etc. Your local community is full of learning opportunities that you probably have never thought of.
Preventing summer slide can seem like a daunting task, but thankfully it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to pull it off. All parents need is to be organized and have the right plan. With the list above, you can provide them with some simple strategies that they can use to prevent summer learning loss, without taking the fun out of summer. When the new school new year begins, your students will be armed with the skills that they retained from the previous year and hopefully some brand new ones. This will make your job as a teacher a whole lot better. Good luck!