Preventing Summer Slide: What Parents Can Do to Help

July 7, 2016

Reading Together

Summer learning may make most of us think of kids sweating through remedial classes, trying to catch up so they will be ready for the next school year. And, the kids who didn’t attend summer school have the summer off, returning to school in the fall feeling refreshed and ready to learn new material. Right?

Research has shown that this is not necessarily the case. According to the Johns Hopkins University School of Education, children experience the “summer slide” when not given the opportunity to practice and learn essential skills during the summer months. Most children lose up to two months of math skills over the summer.

Children from low-income families are impacted even more. Although they gain skills during the school year at the same rate as their middle-income peers, disadvantaged children experienced a loss of more than two months of reading skills during the summer. This loss in skills throughout the elementary years accounts for up to two-thirds of the ninth-grade reading gap. Furthermore, early summer learning losses can impact high school curriculum placement, high school completion and college attendance.

Although there is a disparity between low-income and middle-income children in the long-term impact of the “summer slide,” all children can benefit from learning supports during the summer months. Parents and caregivers can provide an environment that supports and encourages children to continue practicing and learning skills.

What can parents and caregivers do to help?

  • Take advantage of free summer reading programs at the local library. Research has shown that children with access to books read more often and the benefits of reading increased when children were allowed to pick their own books. As few as six books read over the summer were enough to prevent a loss in reading fluency.
  • Encourage reading every day. Help children find multiple opportunities to read throughout the day: newspaper in the morning, recipes at dinner, library books in the evening. All of that practice adds up!
  • Have children keep keep a summer journal to practice both reading and writing skills. They can make short entries about places they go, games they play and adventures with friends!
  • Take field trips! Here are some ideas for families in Dayton or Cincinnati or those that live in Kentucky.
  • Involve children in meal planning and cooking and then enjoy a picnic!

This article was written for the July 2016 edition of Parent Source.