Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide
On June 22, Northborough students will be waving goodbye to their teachers, classmates and bus drivers until September. It is important though for students to keep math and reading skills fresh over the summer months to avoid any regression.
Students will have been hard at work for 180 days of school by the time summer break arrives. They have all learned new skills and grown in many ways during that time. They need the mental break and the time to be just kids during the lazy days of summer. Having two months off from the structure of a school day, where math and reading is not necessarily a daily activity anymore, can actually send some students sliding backwards in those skills.
How can parents help their children avoid the summer slide?
Peaslee Elementary School third grade teacher, Lisa Miranda, suggested Northborough Free Library’s Summer Reading Program. “The library has wonderful crafts, story hours, reading incentives, prizes, and new books. It is air conditioned and free! This helps keep kids reading.”
Melinda Kement, a fourth grade teacher also from Peaslee Elementary, agrees with Miranda, stating that the library “is a great place to meet up with friends during the vacation. The library visits each elementary school classroom prior to vacation to explain the year’s theme, so the children are familiar with the topic.”
“I would also suggest a family reading time during the summer,” said Kement. “This is a time when the whole family reads either individually or together.”
She also added that “there are many reading Web sites for children that have celebrities reading stories aloud to them. Listening to reading is just as important as actually reading something yourself.” Audio books also work well.
At some point during the summer, most find themselves either on long flights or car rides. This can also be a great time to practice skills.
“Playing ABC games in the car on long trips is fun. Have kids look for items along the road or license plates in ABC order,” suggested Kement.
Practicing math facts is also essential over the summer.
Miranda emphasized that kids should practice math facts as often as possible, and it isn’t difficult to incorporate them into your fun summer activities.
“Try computer games like TuxMath or Timez Attack, or even counting money when playing Monopoly. Practice facts in the car when driving to the beach or pool. Give kids change for things like the ice cream truck on the condition that they can count it out. Kids can practice time all summer long by telling you how long until the game or how many minutes more the cookies need to bake.”
Kement agreed that “math can be supported in many ways over the summer. Flashcards, as boring as they can be, will keep skills sharp if they are done twice a week for only five minutes.”
“Calling out math facts while on a long car ride can be helpful also,” added Kement. “Making up word problems about things you see out the car window can make the time fly.”
For rainy days, Kement suggests using the many wonderful math games for the computer or on interactive Web sites.
Miranda also suggested that when traveling on long car rides or by air to bring books or math worksheets instead of video games.
“Sometimes it is fun to combine the reading and the math. After the kids have finished a book, challenge them to make a game about their book. It could have math or reading problems. The whole family could play,” said Kement.
Checking the Web site of each school can also link you with several educational sites. Mary Lincoln, a reading specialist at Peaslee, reiterated that “the summer slide or summer setback is real and it is cumulative. A child, who regresses one or two weeks each summer, could potentially be months behind in a few years. Unfortunately, summer slide is most frequently seen with the neediest population: struggling readers.”
Keeping a summer journal not only keeps writing skills up to date, but also is a fun way to chronicle the summer.
“The key to not regressing is really just exposure and practice,” Miranda concluded.