Summer vacation is here!  As you plan your vacations, family outings, and lazy days, summer can be a great time to demonstrate to kids that learning is not confined to the classroom. In fact, learning should be promoted over the summer as it has been proven that students lose ground academically when school is out of session. Math and spelling skills are especially at risk but reading achievement is also threatened for students who don’t enjoy reading for pleasure during the summer months. Summer learning loss is documented with over 100 years of research, and it’s become an important focus for those striving to improve education.This issue has received so much attention that the first day of summer, June 20, marks National Summer Learning Day. 

Summer learning loss, sometimes called “summer slide,” creates achievement gaps and the gaps get wider each year that students do not have access to educational opportunities over the summer.  For example, one study indicates that more than two-thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap can be traced back to unequal learning opportunities in the elementary school years (Alexander, 2007). Extensive research from the National Summer Learning Association maintains that a conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year. 

Studies also show that summer learning loss is more pronounced for procedural and factual subjects like math and spelling. Researchers believe this is because while many children continue to read on their own, they usually don’t practice these kinds of skills during summer vacation. So, how can educators equip parents with the tools they need to prevent the summer slide?

How to Help Parents Prevent Summer Slide

Parents who have an understanding of grade-level expectations are more prepared to incorporate the appropriate learning experiences into everyday familial activities and make learning relevant.  One resource that can provide parents with the guidance they need to promote learning all summer is ThinkStretch™. ThinkStretch™ is an affordable education program designed for full-school participation. The grade-specific Summer Learning Books are aligned with Common Core State Standards. Each weekly lesson contains a reading log, writing exercise, math worksheets, and a bonus activity. Brain and the Professor follow students through each book, keeping students engaged and entertained all summer.

Here are a few other simple strategies to share with parents to keep kids learning during out of school time:  

  • Incorporate basic skills into everyday living. When you go to the grocery store, encourage children to help chose products that provide the best value for the money. Let children help prepare meals by measuring ingredients or converting measurements from cups to pints to quarts. Children can also track and graph morning temperatures each day to note patterns.
  • Spend time outside.  Go on a hike, a scavenger hunt, or a bike ride.  Summer is a time when many children tend to be less active and have issues with weight gain.  
  • Visit the library and join the summer reading program.  Encourage your child to read about things he is interested in.  Finding the books at the appropriate reading can be a challenge, so ask the librarian for help.  Many major bookstores also provide grade-level appropriate book lists.  

Parents can put the brakes on summer slide by helping their children retain essential skills in June, July, and August. Kids who incorporate academic activities into their summer routine begin the new school year with a significant advantage.