Summertime! Pool, camps, baseball games, chasing fireflies, lazy summer days, right? Well, not so fast! There is a very real issue that constant plagues our children every year during these lazy summer days. It is summer slide which is the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation.
This past fall I received a phone call from a panicked mom. Her son had spent lots of time at the river, pool, play dates and vacation, but no time reading, practicing math facts, journal writing or even playing education games on the iPads. This ‘downtime’ has caused him to regress significantly in all areas. His teachers were already sounding the alarm that he was much further behind than his classmate due to the fact he had done very little school work over the summer. He spent most of his second great year catching up with his peers.
Summer Slide affects children from all socioeconomic backgrounds in ALL grade levels and ALL subject matter. Here are some facts:
- Over 100 years of research in this area finds students score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer vacation than they do at the beginning of the summer unless their summer is enriched with educational opportunities.
- According to a study by John Hopkins University, mathematics computation skills account for approximately 2 1/2 months of grade level equivalency loss.
- In the same study by John Hopkins University, researchers found reading varies across socio-economic status. Low income students generally lose about two months of reading achievement.
- Most recently studies have found that by the end of elementary school, children who did not participate in educational enrichment opportunities over the summer were are much as two and half years behind their peers who were engaged and challenged academically over the summer. As a result, the graduation rate of those students who did not participate in summer educational enrichment is declining.
- Children who are at high risk for obesity also get hit with the summer slide. They tend to gain weight during summer vacation.
- Summer time is consistently labeled by parents as the most challenging time to ensure productive educational opportunities for their children.
- Summer slide is noticed as early as the summer between Kindergarten and 1st grade.
Just like adults, children need opportunities to learn and practice skills. The three month summer break that is quickly approaching is not the time to stop! Be proactive this summer and fill some days with outings to the park, library and museum and provide ample time for reading. Enroll your children in camps and programs that ignite their creative juices and stimulate their brains. The programs and Educational Development Sessions offered by Little Scholars (www.littlescholarsllc.com) are excellent examples of ways to make sure your child is engaged in activities that are rich with educational content.