As a parent, you might have heard the words “summer slide.” What is the summer slide and what can we do about it?
The summer slide is when students lose skills that they gained during the previous school year over the summer break. On average, children can lose two months of reading skills and two and a half months of math skills. If nothing is done to prevent the summer slide, the skills lost will accumulate over time, affecting academic performance and causing children to feel like they’re constantly trying to catch up.
"The summer slide is when students lose skills that they gained during the previous school year over the summer break. Children can lose an average of two months of reading skills and two and a half months of math skills from the previous school year."
“Losing skills” may sound theoretical, but the impact of the summer slide can be felt as soon as the school year starts. If your child doesn’t have opportunities to practice and maintain their academic skills during the summer, they may be behind as soon as they step back into school. On average, teachers spend about four to six weeks reteaching skills to students in the fall—time that could be used to teach new skills from the start of the school year.
However, the summer slide isn’t a foregone conclusion. In fact, you have a number of options to to help your child stay on track and avoid worrying about catching up in the fall.
Tutoring, whether in a one-on-one setting or in a small group, is a great way to make sure that their children are maintaining academic skills from the previous school year. Finding a good tutor can seem daunting if your school doesn’t provide tutoring resources or programs, but a good place to start is by looking online.
Not all tutoring services provide the same kind of support or instruction, so it’s important to consider the type of help that your child needs. For example, Remind Tutoring is an example of a tutoring service that offers one-on-one online tutoring with certified math teachers, which allows your child to get personalized instruction with a tutor who has classroom teaching experience, working with a variety of students.
Another option is to make a trip to your local library. Many libraries have a summer reading program that rewards children for reading over the summer. This is a great way to encourage your child to read 30 minutes daily, which research shows helps students continue working on reading fluency and comprehension. As a bonus, most libraries offer their programs at no cost to you.
Even if you’re heading out on vacation, you can still incorporate reading, writing, and math activities to help your child practice these academic skills—and even have fun doing it. When they’re used in real-world situations, these activities won’t even seem like learning.
Here are just a few examples:
If you’re not planning to go on vacation, there’s also plenty you can do at home to help prevent the summer slide. One example is creating a unit study based on one or two topics that your child finds interesting so they can learn more about that subject through activities that allow them to practice reading, writing, and math. Here are some activities that can be incorporated in a unit study:
The effects of the summer slide may sound dire, but preventing it isn’t impossible. It doesn’t even need to involve summer school or bootcamp-style academic programs. As long as your child has some opportunities to continue practicing the skills they acquired during the school year—whether with additional tutoring, free programs at the library, topics that interest them, or even family trips—they’ve taken the first step to succeeding when they return to school in the fall.