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Thoughtful Parenting: Tips for preventing the ‘summer slide’

Thoughtful parenting youth
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Now that summer vacation has official arrived, 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 the spring and the fall. The slide contributes to gaps in achievement that persist and widen over time. Several recent studies have sought to understand the summer slide and why it impacts students differently.

One study showed that middle- 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 that 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, children from low-income families 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 to 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.

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Recent interventions have shown that 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, including BookTrails Reading on Ranches Camp (mybooktrails.org), Yampatika (yampatika.org) and Young at Art Camp (steamboatarts.org).
  • If your child is on an IEP or READ Plan, they are at greater risk of summer slide. A Different Path to Reading offers one-on-one tutoring and intensive support for children with dyslexia and other severe reading disabilities. (steamboatreading.org)
  • EL, or English 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/Communidad Integrada (ciiccolorado.org) can help parents find language enrichment resources for their children during summer. You can donate to this organization to encourage more summertime resources for EL children.
  • 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 by spending time in the outdoors.

Emily Osterman is executive director of BookTrails, a 501(c)(3) organization that provides Reading on Ranches Camp, a reading-based nature camp held on beautiful North Routt ranch lands.


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