Thoughtful Parenting: Preventing the summer slide
With summer vacation now upon is, it’s a good time to educate ourselves on the summer slide, the term given to the loss in skills that occurs over the summer months. The summer slide is measured by the change in test scores between spring and fall. Several recent studies have sought to understand the summer slide and why it impacts students differently.
One study showed that middle class and low-income students progress at the same rate during the school year, yet show a three-year achievement gap by the time they enter ninth grade. Researchers believe this gap can be attributed to the summer slide, which causes low-income students to start the school year far behind their peers. Middle and upper-income students often show gains during the summer due the increased access to enrichment opportunities, like trips to the library, summer camps and other educational offerings. In contrast, poorer children lose up to an average of two months of reading-level ability during the summer vacation.
The summer slide impacts all students, however, evidenced by the fact that teachers spend an average of four to six weeks re-teaching material in the fall. Valuable classroom time is spent trying to catch-up summer slide students, while students who did not experience the summer slide are stagnated in their classroom.
Recent interventions have show the summer slide is preventable in many ways. Here are some tips on how you can decrease summer slide in your children and as a community:
• Provide enrichment opportunities in the community at low cost, or include scholarship programs for low-income students. Many programs in Steamboat Springs offer scholarships for summer programming, including Young at Art Camp (steamboatarts.org), BookTrails Reading on Ranches Camp (mybooktrails.org) and Yampatika (yampatika.org).
• If your child is on an IEP or READ Plan, he or she is at greater risk of summer slide. The READ Act provides seven hours of private tutoring for students on READ Plan. Ask your school’s reading specialist for more information.
• ELL, or English Language Learners, are particularly at risk of losing English skills during the summer, especially if they are not speaking English regularly during the break. Integrated Community or Communidad Integrada (ciiccolorado.org) can help parents find language enrichment resources for their children during summer.
• Summer is a time for fun, but make sure your children are participating in educational experiences as well. Read books together as a family, invite your child to read before bedtime and decrease screen time.
Emily Krall is the executive director of BookTrails, a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of providing and reading and writing enrichment programs through hands-on experiences.
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