Beating The “Summer Slide”
by Kate Humphrey
What is The Summer Slide?
Summer vacation is usually a time for children to hang out with friends, relax, and unwind from the school year. However, it can also lead to the “summer slide”, the regression of reading and other academic abilities. Younger children are more at risk for the summer slide because they are in a crucial developmental stage and their brains must be regularly exercised in order for them not to forget what they have learned and to prevent falling behind in the fall. Unfortunately, summer learning loss can also contribute to the achievement gap in children from lower-income families. To help combat this and to keep your kids engaged throughout the summer, we’ve compiled some useful tips.
How to Beat The Summer Slide
Read every day: Children who read for at least twenty minutes every day are more likely to build stronger vocabularies, reading comprehension skills, and develop better grammar. If your child is too young to read on their own, we suggest reading to them yourself; even a short bedtime story helps to build their capabilities. Reading your own book alongside them sets a great example, and it’s something we highly recommend doing.
Allow children to read what they please: When encouraging children and teenagers to develop strong reading habits, letting them choose their own (age and grade-level appropriate) reading material is incredibly important. This lets them see reading as an enjoyable activity instead of something they have to do, and may even allow them to explore a range of genres.
Library reading programs: There’s no better place for an array of free books and resources than a library. As a community center, your local library may host a summer read-a-thon that inspires your child to read a set number of books over the break. If your library is not hosting its own summer challenge, you can always look into the Collaborative Summer Library Program, Beanstack’s reading challenges, or start a reading group of your own (more information can be found here and here).
Engaging activities: As wonderful and gratifying as reading is, it is also vital for children of every age to stimulate their minds in other ways. Spending time outside, going to museums, playing board games, and doing puzzles are other fun activities to spark imagination and critical thinking. Connecticut recently launched their “Summer at the Museum” initiative which is offering free admission to participating institutions for kids this summer.
Reading Lists and Further Resources
Sometimes, knowing which books to select for children can be the biggest hurdle in developing enthusiastic readers. To help with that, here are several lists that can help you get a jump start on your child’s reading: Read Brightly, ALSC, and Imagination Soup offer lists for all ages and reading levels; Summer Reading NY compiled several lists for teenagers; even websites like Goodreads and stores such as Barnes & Noble have some fantastic book recommendations. Or visit your local independent bookstore and ask the staff what they love!
For more resources and ideas for overcoming the summer slide, we encourage you to look into The National Summer Learning Association, American Library Association, and Association for Library Service to Children.
We hope you find these resources and suggestions useful. Have a great summer filled with lots of books and learning!