Preventing The Summer Slide Essay

1835 words - 8 pages

During Summer break children can enjoy more unstructured time and families can go on vacations. Summer seems to be a large block of time that parents and kids can use to take a breather...But, there is a shadow that often hovers over this lengthy break - a shadow commonly called the summer slide.

Summer Slide: Is It Real?
Despite the playground-like image that the word slide suggests, summer slide refers to a student's loss of academic skills and knowledge during the summer months.[1] The research on this very real phenomenon dates back over 100 years, and confirms that differences in elementary school children’s summer learning experiences “…can impact whether that child ultimately earns a ...view middle of the document...

Regardless of age or socioeconomic status, every child who doesn't have educational experiences during the summer will experience a loss of learning[6]. These findings highlight the incontrovertible importance of preventing the summer slide each year. Luckily, there are many ways for parents to provide a way for kids to continue to learn throughout the summer – all while upholding the more relaxed, care-free nature of this annual break from school.

The Nitty Gritty of Summer Learning Loss: What’s Effected & Why?
The summer slide primarily effects math and reading skills. Students can lose between one and three months of learning over the summer break[7]. These dramatic educational setbacks stem from a lack of enriching experiences which stimulate children’s minds and encourage the continued use of skills learned during the school year.

So, why can the learning loss be so great in such a relatively short amount of time? The human brain seems to be subject to a "use it or lose it" dynamic. Skills and knowledge which are not used can diminish over time[8]. I find the following analogy helpful in understanding the neurology of learning: Imagine that your mind is a vast forest, filled with many interconnected walking paths which run through it. The paths which are used and explored most frequently will remain clear - making those routes easier to travel. The paths which are not used will become overgrown and more difficult to traverse. The same is true of neurological connections in the brain and this is how “use it or lose it” works.[9]. Continuing to use math and reading skills over the summer makes sense.

What Parents Can Do: The ABCs of Improved Reading
Parents can use the ABCs of improved reading to maintain children’s literacy skills over the summer: Access, Book type, and Comprehension

Children need access to a wide variety of reading material throughout the summer. Having several reading options readily available around the house can make a huge difference in a child's reading habits. The library is a wonderful resource to help families make this happen! Allow kids to choose books they are already interested in. Help them choose the types of books which compliment their ability level and interests. The sweet spot is finding something that is not too easy or too hard. Teach this 5-finger rule to your child so they can determine if a book is too challenging:

1) Open the book to a random page and read it.
2) Hold up a finger for each word you are not sure of or do not know.
3) If there are five (or more) words you do not know, consider finding an easier book.
4) Still think the book is not too difficult? Try the 5-finger rule on another two pages.

“Reading is most effective when parents or family members can provide reading guidance and make sure that kids understand what they’re reading.” Parents can help kids with reading comprehension by asking questions, having kids summarizing stories, or rereading tough passages – but above all,...

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