The Summer Slide
It’s the summer and for many when they hear the word slide, it conjures up memories of happy days spent at the playground or a waterpark. For me, huge smiles and joyful shouts are all evoked when I think of children playing on slides. Perhaps for you, visits to the park with your child or grandchild involve a trip down the slide.
But not all slides are happy nor positive. The summer learning slide is one of these. This term refers to the loss of learning that can occur during the summer if students do not keep their brains engaged and turned on.
As a teacher, I knew that September would be a time of review in my classroom. Some gains that we worked so hard to achieve the previous year would be erased after a two-month holiday. Just as new skills (such as kicking and throwing balls and learning an instrument or new dance moves) need to be practiced to help perfect and maintain them, reading, writing and math do too.
Research has shown that children in the early grades and from disadvantaged homes are the most at risk of the summer slide. Without practice, children can slide back at least 2 months and over time the effect can be cumulative. These students will always be playing catch up. Teachers spend 3 to 4 weeks of the new school year reviewing and reteaching skills from the previous grade. This takes away time from the curriculum that they are responsible to teach.
To address this phenomenon, some schools in Canada and around the world shorten the break to reduce the effect of the summer slide. A shorter summer, with a week added here and there throughout the year can help prevent the loss of skills.
Thankfully, there are many fun and easy things that you can do to help avoid the summer slide. Here are just some, with a link to more.
1. Perhaps the most important one is to keep your child reading. Encourage reading by making it a fun activity. Allow your child to choose their own reading material. Join a reading program at the library. Read together and read to your child. Read directions to make things and to play new games. Read signs when you are out and about. Go to new places and read the maps and brochures.
2. Play games. There are many games both commercial, online, and homemade that reinforce skills such as vocabulary, spelling, writing, and more. Make learning fun. Even just talking to each other about new experiences is a great way to build that vocabulary.
3. Don’t forget about math. In some ways, these skills can decline even further because they are not as readily reviewed. Play games to keep these abilities fresh and sharp. Again, there are many different varieties to choose from.
4. Encourage journal or diary writing, especially if you are going on a trip.
This blog article has more information and there is a free resources tab at the top which has plenty of great ideas that you can use: https://blog.allaboutlearningpress.com/summer-slide/
Source for the main graphic: Biguniverse.com
Susan is a member of Na'amat Canada Calgary.
The views and opinions expressed in this post are the writer’s alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Na’amat Canada.