Jennifer Belland, Dancing Moose Montessori Elementary Mentor Teacher
As the days get warmer and the nights shorter many children are counting down with great enthusiasm the start of summer break. Summer is often a time for family vacations, neighborhood barbeques, and unlimited fun. However, teachers also identify summer as a time when notable “summer slide” occurs. Summer slide is a term used to identify the significant loss of academic progress that was made during the school year which occurs during summer when students are not daily using academic skills. Studies have shown that many students lose more than two months of reading and math skills over the summer. The good news is that summer slide is completely preventable. By becoming your child’s learning partner this summer you can overpower summer slide with these three steps:
1. Make Reading Fun and a Part of Your Routine
- Set a specific time of day when reading will occur- routine matters
○ For many families the time that works best for their schedules is bedtime. In my home reading right after breakfast allows my children to better focus and has limited the “I’m too tired!” excuse I often received. The time of day isn’t important, the essential piece is the consistency of a routine.
- Model the value of reading
○ We know that children emulate the actions of adults they admire- allow your child to see you read. As a child I loved to read articles my parents had chosen for me out of the newspaper while eating my breakfast because every morning I saw them reading at the breakfast table. When your child sees you read they see that you value and make a priority for reading and they will also.
- Make it fun
○ Read books you enjoyed as a child with your child.
○ Read in a new space or place- take your books to the park or visit a library with a fun reading space (I highly recommend Daybreak library with its rooftop garden and outdoor plaza).
○ Enter local reading challenges – Some of my favorite include the all ages challenge from the Salt Lake County Library System (https://www.slcolibrary.org/summer-reading/srp) and the all ages challenge from the Utah State Library Division (https://library.utah.gov/summer-reading/)
2. Use Math Skills in Practical Ways
- Cook with your children
○ Cooking with kids builds many math skills such as counting out ingredients and beginning to understand Fractions. Cooking also gives them practical life experiences as they chop, stir, and mix.
- Play Card and Board Games
○ Playing card and board games with your child builds their math and reading skills while also providing them with the opportunity to regulate their own emotions.
3. Enjoy Real-World Learning Experiences
- Visit local museums, gardens, and attractions
○ Utah is full of wonderful museums, gardens and attractions that you can visit with your children! Find places that interest your child and match their passions. While visiting, make your visit memorable by modeling a sense of awe and an inquisitive mindset.
The summer season provides a wonderful time for children to explore new interests, spend time with family and friends, and recharge. However, as a teacher I ask you to be mindful of summer slide and the impact it may have on your child. I urge you to please prioritize learning experiences and learning time this summer to prevent summer slide and help pave the way for a successful return to school in the fall.
Alexander, K.; Entwisle, D.; Olson, L. (2007). Lasting Consequences of the Summer Learning Gap. American Sociological Review. Vol 72, Issue 2, 167-180. doi: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/000312240707200202
Alexander, K.; Entwisle, D.; Olson, L. (2007). Summer learning and its implications. New Directions in Youth Development. Issue 114, 11-32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1002/yd.210