By Valore Turner
NBFA Middle School Principal
Summer months provide students with an opportunity to relax, play and make fond new memories with friends and family. Yet, it is also a time when some students become disengaged from learning and consequently lose some of the achievement gains they made during the school year. This decline in academic skills is known to educators as “The Summer Slide.”
Various studies show that children who are not cognitively engaged during summer vacation slip in their reading and mathematical abilities.
Fun educational enrichment activities throughout the summer are important and best of all, many programs are readily accessible for free at public libraries.
The public library is an excellent resource for families; for there, children can access a wide range of books that meet their individual interests at their reading levels and participate in enrichment opportunities like painting, scrap booking, science experiments, crocheting, yoga, etc.
Apart from the library, local summer programs and/or camps are also a good medium for engaging students during the summer. Many summer programs and camps build cognitive activities into their day. Not only are children physically and emotionally stimulated, they are also intellectually challenged.
However, addressing “The Summer Slide” need not only be a third party task. Guardians also play a very important role in ensuring that learning continues and does not regress during the summer months.
•Encourage and ensure that children read every day in an effort to build and maintain fluency
• Promote spelling and vocabulary by exposing children to a word of the day
• Play strategy games with children to enforce and increase reasoning skills—which in turn will help with improving math and comprehension skills
• Visit museums and/or local historic places and discuss the significance of these trips
• Find time and ways to have children use their math computation skills—counting out money to pay a bill at a store, telling time, weighing objects, doubling/tripling ingredients etc.
Planning for beating “The Summer Slide” is the first and best step for defeating it. So, get ahead of the slide and begin carving out the approach that will work best for your child and family today!