Avoiding the Summer Slide

I have mentioned in previous posts that it is in your children’s best interest to use the summer to move themselves along in some way – possibly exploring their interests through a volunteer, job shadow or internship experience. And, of course, paid work is quite helpful in many ways.

In addition to these major categories, however, I also recommend that students spend time each week on areas that will help avoid “The Summer Slide,” a well-documented phenomenon in which students lose academic ground over the summer.

Here are some stats regarding The Summer Slide, courtesy of The National Summer Learning Association:

  • All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. 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.
  • Most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months. Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains.

So, if your student hopes to arrive back in school at the same academic level as he or she left in June, they need to engage in some educational activity over the summer. I always like to give kids a break a break until after 4th of July from any formal expectations, but now it’s time to get going!

This is, of course, particularly important if your child is a rising senior and plans to take the ACT/SAT in the fall. That prep is critical in the summer months. In addition to formal test prep, studies show that reading is the best way to boost test scores. This is something your child should know and understand – consistent reading will give them more options when it comes to college admissions and success once at college.

And this applies to students of all ages, which is why it’s important that your child understand this Summer Slide scenario and buys into the importance of avoiding it.

Number One on every student’s list should be reading and, hopefully, your child’s high school has assigned a book over the summer. Even better is if they engage in reading in addition to this assigned book. It can be magazines on a favorite topic, travel brochures, newspapers, etc., not to mention games such as crossword puzzles, scrabble and Bananagrams. It is helpful for kids to see other family members reading as well.

Your child may have a subject in which they really struggle. Or, maybe they need to work on organizational and/or study skills. In these cases, consider getting a jump start by working with a tutor for the month of August, so that they arrive back at school in good shape.

One website that I highly recommend for improving vocabulary and grammar, math, languages, sciences and geography is FreeRice.com. Not only is the format fun, as you progress, you are actually donating rice to third world countries. It is a site that the entire family could gather together on using laptops, tablets and smart phones, just to see how much rice you can donate in a group learning session!

Finally, if your child is not an enthusiastic reader, I suggest sitting down for a serious discussion about what will work to get them engaged in reading this summer. Some students may find it best to use books on tape to listen and read along simultaneously. An old fashioned chart on the frig may work best with a minimum of 30 minutes of reading / free rice, etc. per day. In general, the more the better.

Come September, your child will then slide back into school ready to move forward!

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