Avoiding Summer Learning Loss: Tips for Parents
What is “Summer Slide”? To students on vacation, it sounds like a playground attraction. In reality, “Summer Slide” – or summer learning loss – is what happens when children don’t engage in academic skills over the summer.
When school doors close for the summer, what do kids face? For some, it’s a world of interesting vacations, music lessons, and library trips.
For others without enriching summertime opportunities, the break can lead to serious academic consequences—and the disparity can be dramatic.
Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
Parents consistently cite summer as the most difficult time to ensure that their children have productive things to do (Duffett et al, 2004).
Some tips for parents to help keep your kids’ skills sharp over the summer
- Head to the library: Check out books that interest your child. Make time to readevery day and participate in library or local bookstore reading programs.
- Listen to a story: Check out audio books from the library or download books to your iPod for the family to listen to together while at home or in the car. Visit the podcast directory http://www.openculture.com/freeaudiobooks to pick the perfect literature podcasts for your child this summer.
- Explore and learn: If taking trips, choose places with an educational theme. Local parks, museums, nature centers and zoos all make for great day trips.
- Write it down: Discuss and write about the books you are reading. Keep a journal of trips and activities during summer.
- Create a family game night: Set aside one night a week for family game night. Chess supports youngsters’ analytical and problem-solving skills, and Scrabble helps boost spelling and vocabulary skills.
- Give math meaning: Total up items while shopping at the drugstore or market. Practice fractions while cooking. Graph daily temperatures.
- Prepare for fall: Many schools give students summer reading and math packets. Create routines with structure in order to successfully complete these assignments. When possible, find out what your child will be studying in the fall and preview these concepts and books over the summer.
- Locate a summer program: Find an academic summer program that meets your child’s needs. Make sure the program has a researched –backed curriculum, low student-to-adult ratios and certified teachers.
Academic summer programs provide children with strategically planned, structured summer experiences. And, of course, summer programs can encompass a variety of experiences that challenge children, develop their talents, keep them engaged, and expand their horizons.
Entering its 15th year, RI Tutorial academic summer programs are again tackling the dreaded “Summer Slide” by offering a variety of classes in reading, writing, math, and study skills. RI Tutorial programs are all about motivating and engaging students through multi-sensory activities. As a parent, you receive progress reports and get weekly updates about your child’s progress, and, new this year, you can sign up through social media to see the program in action throughout the summer.
Thankfully, “Summer Slide” is not inevitable. You can help your child keep their skills up and move forward by making the commitment to help your child climb up instead of slide down.