What's the summer slide you may wonder...
Summer Slide is the loss of learning that takes place over summer break when students aren't engaged in learning. Your brain is like a muscle. If you work out and get in shape you won't stay that way unless you keep working out. Kids work hard all year to make progress in reading and math. When they don't use those skills all summer they start to slip away.
An average student will start the year off two months behind where they were when school ended. Some students lose up to as much as six months of learning over summer break.
This obviously impacts students because the first month of school is more about getting back what's lost than making new progress. But the bigger impact is how frustrating it is for the kids. When a student starts the new school year struggling it's very discouraging. Especially for kids in the primary grades who were reading at the end of the year. When they can't do it in the fall it's upsetting. They don't understand why they are suddenly worse at something they could do a couple of months before.
How can you avoid this?
With reading it's pretty simple- Keep reading. Ask for a summer reading list or get one online. Have your kids pick books from the library. Hit up yard sales for new to you cheap books. Kids who read every day all summer can avoid the summer slide and even increase their reading skills over the break.
For some kids it's just a matter of reminding them occasionally and making sure they have books on hand. For many it takes a little more support from a parent. Young kids and reluctant readers benefit greatly from a parent sitting and listening to them read. Not only does it keep them on track, it shows them that reading is a priority.
Practicing math over the summer is a little trickier. There's tons of free resources online for worksheets and practice games. But honestly, I wouldn't push that too much. I try to focus on where we can use math every day. Have kids help with the budget at the grocery store, count steps as you go up a big staircase, look for patterns in architecture, have the kids measure things while cooking. Math is all around us in the word you just have to look for it.
It is important to review those rote facts kids learn during the school year. Our family does lots of math practice in the car. My son an I take turns giving each other problems to solve. We also pull out flash cards a couple of times a week and spend 10 minutes reviewing.
I am definitely NOT saying kids should spend their whole summer break doing worksheets. I am just saying that learning shouldn't stop just because school is out. Keep those brains working!