Are you looking for ways to minimize the “summer slide” for your students over the break? Let’s break down some practical ways to help keep your students’ minds sharp during summer vacation.
The “summer slide,” or officially referred to as Summer Learning Loss, is the decline in academic abilities that occurs during summer vacation. This often leads to students beginning the new school year with achievement levels well-below what they were when school let out.
Imagine your student enjoys playing basketball, but doesn’t set foot on a court for three months. Would you expect them to perform at the same skill level as when they practiced routinely? It’s a callback to the saying, “if you don’t use it, you lose it,” and academics are no exception to this rule.
Preventing students from slipping in areas they’ve worked all year to grow can be especially tricky for students with already defined skill gaps. Without interventions in place during the summer, students run the risk of reversing their learning gains and leaving a less-than-ideal predicament for their new teachers.
By this point in the year, you're aware of where your student’s deficit areas are. You’ve both put in the hours to help close learning gaps and boost achievement. But, how can we ensure that the momentum we’ve built is enough to carry them through three months outside of the classroom?
Studies have shown that summer programs are most effective to help students retain the skills they’ve mastered. The programs should follow an evidence-based curriculum and incorporate adequate time spent on instruction.
Often, summer school is viewed as punitive by students, leading to low morale and low performance. You can keep students motivated by providing content that engages them and incentivizes success. To experience the most success, it’s important that students understand that they’re not being punished for their performance during the school year. And, summertime learning should be fun and enriching.
Classworks is a popular choice for summer programs because of its ability to screen students and pinpoint learning gaps. This ensures that students are always working on relevant, engaging content that helps them to keep pace and grow. Because Classworks is available on any device, at any time, students can access it at home and work on activities customized just for them.
It's also important to involve parents in the summer learning conversation and communicate the resources that are available to them. Parents can work on reading activities with their children to help maintain reading stamina and comprehension. Public libraries are a great, cost-effective way to provide materials to students when school is out. Plus, having a wide variety of content - digital passages, chapter books, magazines, poems, picture books, non-fiction literature - appeals to students who struggle staying focused on literacy.
Additionally, many schools assign summer reading projects to students in order to curb decline in literacy skills. Students should be able to pick from a collection of subject areas so that they can gravitate towards topics that interest them. Even something as simple as reading aloud has been shown to reduce Summer Learning Loss. If families are planning any long car-rides this summer, audiobooks are a perfect substitute.
With tools like Classworks, students can use interdisciplinary, Lexile-leveled, Close-Reading passages to hone their comprehension skills. Helpful features like a dictionary, highlighter, read-aloud capability, and notes allow students to dive into the reading and confidently answer the text-dependent questions.
Surprisingly, educators have found that one particular daily activity can boost literacy retention: texting! Receiving and sending messages helps students practice skills like comprehension, subject-verb agreement, and spelling. Students can use their smartphones to access books, articles, and exchange content with family and friends. And, if their school uses a browser-based tool like Classworks, they can even receive intervention in the palms of their hands.
But what about math? Parents can help students retain math concepts with a number of simple daily activities such as cooking. Following a recipe is a great way to review fractions and follow directions for step-by-step problem solving. If you’re looking for fun, simple suggestions for parents to be active in their student’s success, this is a perfect example. Or, use digital problem-solving activities that focus on real-world scenarios.
It’s important to help students retain what they learned over the school year. Combine reading and math programs that are easily accessible with fun, practical activities at home for the greatest benefit to students over the summer.