21 Jul Is the Summer Academic Slide Real? Yes and No. Plus Tips to Keep Kids Learning Either Way
Is the Summer Academic Slide real? Yes and no; while it is real, recent studies have brought new insights. Should we find ways to keep kids learning this summer, absolutely yes. Give your kids plenty of time to play, have fun outdoors and just be kids. But, especially since the pandemic has disrupted classrooms these last few years, sneaking in a bit of learning (reading, writing and math) this season certainly can help your kids lose less ground. It will also help them be more prepared for school this fall, summer learning loss or not.
According to a recent study, yes, the average student, grades 1-8, lost 17–34% of the learning gains made the year before during summer break. [link: https://edworkingpapers.com/sites/default/files/SchoolsOut_AtteberryMcEachin_2020_0520.pdf]. However another recent study clarifies that racial disparities, long thought to be entrenched in summer learning loss, are more nuanced than expected. Also, that kids who learn to love learning in the summer, usually build on this each year.
Some of the ways to help your children reduce the potential learning losses are in fact, pretty simple. According to a Colorado state report “Reading just 4 to 6 books over the summer has the potential to prevent a decline in reading achievement scores from the spring to the fall, so even small steps are very beneficial.” Statistics also show that when adults in a household read, or read with children, kids read more often too.
Let your Kids Drive the Reading Bus
There was another new finding in that same report, “When children select reading materials themselves and read for enjoyment, they receive the most gains in reading achievement, including better reading comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, and grammatical development.” This is license to give your kids free reign of your local library this summer and to make weekly trips. Letting them pick out the books, or offering gentle guidance – “you asked a question about lions when we went to the zoo the other day, do you want to see if we can find a book about that?” Tying learning…to interests can help spark a reading interest that might just turn into a flame!
But What About Math and the Summer Slide
Another side of the summer slide is math. While it seems a bit harder to help your child keep up in this area, incorporating counting, addition, and subtraction (based on your children’s ages) into your daily activities is one way to go. Another way is to explore math through science and stem learning. Sites like GoNoodle and We Are Teachers have some great, hands on learning ideas. Here is one article: 30 Fun and Free Kindergarten Science Activities for Budding Scientists. You can also check out Ranger Rick online if your child loves nature, or if he or she loves space – then NASA has loads of resources too!
The DIY Build it to Learn Method
If you want to tackle a task together, plan a project where you build something together. A bird house, a doghouse, a carboard box fort for your little ones, or even turn a small 3-shelf bookshelf into a doll house like my mom did. There are plenty of plans on the internet and even YouTube videos. This can involve gathering things, counting things, and measuring things – from partitions and doors, to furniture for inside. You can also engage kid’s spatial reasoning. If you need to go to the store to buy a dining room table for the doll house – you need to decide how much of the doll house room it may take up so you need to measure things. Also give your child a budget for furniture and help them decide which to buy. When my mom turned an old three shelf bookshelf into a doll house for me, it was similar to this Bob Villa project [Link: https://www.bobvila.com/articles/how-to-build-a-dollhouse/],
My mom’s doll house was just a bit more intricate. The project included measuring and cutting thin wood to make the walls between rooms and cutting out doorways to fit my family of dolls. Measuring the size of the window and drawing the size then cutting an image from a magazine to fit the size of the “window,” then gluing it to the wall and painting a window frame over it. Deciding the angle of the wooden roof. I will admit, she did most of it, but I helped a bit. And I played with that doll house a lot, even my older brother did a bit.
Taking online classes like what ALOHA offers in reading | writing, and math can also help combat the summer slide. The studies also show that many children who take a learning program over the summer show an increase in knowledge retention.
To find out more, explore our Why ALOHA Page – Our math and reading/writing programs for kids ages 3-12, whether online or in person, are teacher-led, not just a a computer program or a self-study worksheet. Children’s programs like these can also help ease kids back into the schooling frame of mind as summer inches closer to fall!
Written by Cathy Larkin, a freelance writer, and social media coordinator, who has been a part of the ALOHA Mind Math team for several years.