Battling the Summer Slide: 3 Steps to Maintain Your Child’s Achievement Gains

It sounds like the star attraction at your local playground, but there’s nothing fun about the summer slide. According to the United States Department of Education, the summer slide is the loss of academic abilities during long school breaks. Reading and math skills take the hardest hit. When students return to class, teachers often need to spend four to six weeks reviewing forgotten material.

Learning loss has a cumulative effect. Students may take longer to catch up, leaving them fewer opportunities to absorb new material. The pattern repeats after each vacation period until the student is so far behind that more advanced interventions are needed.

Preventing the summer slide means your child spends more of their class time learning new things. It also prevents frustration and embarrassment, two huge barriers for students with special needs, behavioral issues, or learning disabilities.

Strategize for Maximum Success

  • Get familiar with your state’s educational expectations. During preparations for preventing the summer slide, compare the goals of their upcoming academic year with their current skill and knowledge sets.
  • Make a list of realistic and measurable goals. If your child is behind a full grade level, it may not be possible to catch them up over a 12-week break. You can, however, read a certain number of books, complete daily practice assignments, or finish a project.
  • Make Learning an Experience
  • Learners of all ages benefit from multisensory learning methods. Have younger children practice spelling, phonics, and math by tracing words, numbers, and symbols in the sand, dirt, or salt with fingers and sticks. For older children, online resources with music, games, and video keep them engaged while reinforcing existing knowledge.
  • Summer is for road trips. Use the car time to play games that keep everyone mentally stimulated on the long drive. Don’t forget to download a couple of educational apps on their tablets and phones before hitting the road.
  • Have your child keep a daily journal of their summer activities. Set a word count based on age level and writing ability. Provide stickers, colored pencils, and other art supplies so they can get creative.
  • Make learning meaningful. Buy a science kit, like soil sampling or insect catching, and take it on a hike or your trip to the beach. A child that loves music can learn essential math and reading skills while training on their instrument.
  • Comfort. Encourage. Celebrate.
  • A 10-year study by the social research group MDRC found conclusive evidence that parent involvement improves math and literacy skills. Your genuine interest helps your child succeed. Encourage them to try harder. Celebrate their victories, no matter how small. When failures happen, take the time to comfort them.
  • Your attention, involvement, and unconditional positive regard will help foster joyful creativity and a lifelong love of learning while preventing the summer slide.

Your attention, involvement, and unconditional positive regard will help foster joyful creativity and a lifelong love of learning while preventing the summer slide.

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