Thoughtful Parenting: Preventing the ‘summer slide’
With summer vacation quickly approaching, it’s a good time to educate ourselves on the summer slide, the term given to the loss in skills that occurs during the summer months. The summer slide is measured by the change in test scores between the spring and the fall. Several recent studies have sought to understand the summer slide and why it impacts students differently.
One study showed 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 think 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, such as 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, due to the fact that teachers spend between four and six weeks on average 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 shown 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, they are at greater risk of summer slide. The READ Act provides seven hours of private tutoring for students on a 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 executive director of BookTrails, a 501(c)(3) organization with the mission of providing reading and writing enrichment programs through hands-on experiences.
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