The Summer Slide may sound like a fun amusement park ride, but unfortunately educators know it as the learning loss phenomenon that results in students returning to school this fall, many of them – perhaps especially those from historically disadvantaged student groups – starting the academic year with achievement levels lower than where they were at the beginning of summer break. While the research is mixed on this phenomenon, most educators agree that keeping kids reading over the summer is crucial to avoiding learning loss.
The US Department of Education recommends that kids of all ages engage in educational activities during the summer months.
For Elementary and Middle School Students:
- All students can benefit from a trip to the local library.
- Parents of younger students can create a summer reading list with their children, and then reward them when they finish each book.
- Additionally, parents can encourage their kids to think outside of the box with arts and crafts. Sites such as kids.gov and NGA Kids have great ideas that will let any child’s imagination run wild and stimulate creativity.
- Summertime can be a great time to teach healthy eating habits. Parents can get ideas for tasty and nutritious meals at Let’s Move! and kidshealth.org. There is also information available about the USDA Summer Food Program, which was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.
For High School Students:
- Summer can be the perfect time for high school-aged children to prepare for college, and setting aside at least one day a week to keep math and science skills fresh is an excellent way to start off the summer. Local libraries are an excellent place to find books full of practice problems – and they’re quiet and often air-conditioned too!
- Summer is also a good time to sit down and discuss financial aid and other expenses. Our Office of Federal Student Aid has prepared checklists geared toward students of all ages.
- Many high school students might also want to take the time to start developing their professional resumes. Finding a part-time job can help students gain valuable experience and line their pockets with a bit of extra cash. Visit www.wh.gov/youthjobs for more information.
- Volunteering is also an option. Youth-oriented summer camps, local museums, animal shelters and, of course, libraries are often looking for extra help during warmer months. This experience is not only valuable for personal and professional development, but it often looks good on college applications. Find opportunities at volunteer.gov.
Tips From the Experts
PBS Kids suggests that parents get creative with reading activities. We can load up on a variety of books in all formats and genres, listen to story time podcasts, create a book nook, go on a story walk, or even write or illustrate our own books.
Teachers gave the following tips to Scholastic Parents to help get kids into the spirit of summer reading:
- Keep a Loose Schedule
- Don’t Present Reading As a Chore
- Go Outside
- Role Reversal
- Make Summer Reading a Shared Family Experience
- Dive Into a Series