Solutions for the Summer Slide
Finally! It’s summer—that long-awaited time to enjoy some extra rest and recreation. But did you know too much kicking back can be harmful to your student’s learning?
Studies show that students can lose up to two months of math and literacy skills over the summer. Although summer learning loss—also known as the summer slide—is a real problem, it doesn’t have to slow down your child at the start of a new school year. Here are a few solutions:
Probably the most effective solution is attending summer school. However, because most summer school programs in the U.S. are remedial, negative perceptions keep students who are learning at grade level from exploring topics of interest and making important academic gains through the summer. This is unfortunate, because successful students end up cheating themselves. Recent research shows teenagers who attend summer school for personal enrichment are significantly more likely to get into a highly competitive university than students with similar academic profiles who don’t choose summer school. If finding a local enrichment program near you proves challenging, independent study courses offer effective ways to keep learning through the summer without being restricted to a particular locale.
Read, Read, Read
While loss of reading skills continues to be a problem, studies show some positive gains. Interestingly, some children maintain or even improve their skills over the summer, perhaps as a result of their parents’ encouragement to read. Considering the good news, it’s important to keep up the good work in supporting your child’s reading habits. Make reading a part of daily life, whether reading a recipe together as you bake cookies, reading aloud signs during a neighborhood walk, tucking in for the night with a bedtime story, and if you haven’t already done so, falling in love with your local library, visiting it often. Try using our Reading with a Twist reading log to track your child’s reading over the summer and encourage this activity.
Although results for reading skills are mixed, spelling skills for most children decline during the summer. A fun solution to this problem is word games. Whether online or in print, crossword puzzles, word searches, Scrabble, or any other games that challenge your child’s spelling skills will go a long way in helping to avoid the summer slide. Learning Liftoff’s Reading with a Twist is also a great way to encourage word games.
It seems the area of the brain that handles math functions needs a regular workout to stay in top form. Over the summer, students’ highest learning losses are in mathematical computation, which involves remembering facts and procedures. Online games and apps that require the use of addition, subtraction, multiplication, geometry, algebra, and other kinds of mathematical problem-solving skills can provide your child a great way to stay sharp. Track your child’s progress in keeping up with math problems and games this summer by using our Math Log that you can print directly from Learning Liftoff.
The effects of volunteering may not be directly measurable on an academic proficiency test, but the benefits are nonetheless real and influence successful learning. Volunteering increases self-confidence, helps students make new friends and contacts, increases social skills, provides career experience, and it looks great on a college application. Research also shows it has important health benefits: people who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression. So, what are your child’s interests? How could those interests be turned into an opportunity to volunteer?
Before the Grand Tour of the seventeenth century, even back to antiquity, people have been aware of the educational benefits of travel. For the studious observer, exposure to a new culture, its values, and language can create greater appreciation for important human issues: How are all people alike? Where does a person fit in a larger global world? Travel also affects personal growth. A research study showed a majority of students who traveled through an international exchange program felt they had become more trusting, open-minded, flexible, confident, and tolerant as a result of their experiences. If an exchange program isn’t an option for your student, consider taking day trips to historic sites near you or visit museums dedicated to the study of a particular region, industry, or culture.
For a quick overview on the effects of summer learning loss, view the infographic, “Two Sides of Summer Learning Loss.”
Learning Liftoff is featuring a number of articles like this one to help your kids beat the summer slide and engage in some fun learning this summer. As you read these posts, be sure to pin them to your Pinterest page for a chance to win a $500 Visa Gift Card, which will certainly come in handy for your back-to-school shopping. Read more about our Summer Learning Sweepstakes to get started.
Anne Altieri Watt is a senior writer for K12. She has more than a decade of experience as a freelance and staff writer, covering topics such as education, early children’s literacy, and lifestyle issues. Before joining K12, she worked for Reading Is Fundamental in Washington, D.C. When not reading a good book, looking for a good book, or trying to write a good book, Anne is out hiking with her husband at the Shenandoah National Park in an attempt to avoid housework.