Schools out and if you’re like me, the idea of children losing some of the precious reading strategies they’ve worked so hard on all year concerns me. The “summer slide”—a reference to the trend for students to lose some of the gains made during the previous school year—happens during the summer months when kids are out of school. Skills tend to “slip” away during the summer if students aren’t actively engaged, and reading is one of the areas where they suffer the most.
Studies have found that learning loss over the summer can be equal to almost two months of the school year. Unequal access to summer learning opportunities may explain the achievement gap between children from low-income and higher-income homes, which in turn can affect the difference in graduation rates.
So, what can teachers do to encourage students and families to keep learning even though school is out? Fortunately, there are many ways to learn, and learning can take place anytime, anywhere, and without expensive resources. Here are a few to share with your families before the last bell rings:
Three Free Ideas
1. Read aloud to your child every single day. Read picture books. Read a chapter a day of a longer book. Read a recipe out loud. Just read.
2. Take your child to the library. Participate in summer reading programs and check out books to read at home. The Cleveland Public Library has great, free resources to keep children engaged all summer:
- The library’s summer reading program, called “Lit League,” features reading and writing through puppetry. Sign up online here.
- With a library card, kids can listen to audio books all summer long on Overdrive.
- With your library card, get a free family of 6 one-day pass to the Natural History Museum and planetarium. More info. here.
- Talk about the many exhibits available and visit Balto, the dog who saved Nome, Alaska, and then lived out the rest of his life in Cleveland.
3. Talk to your child. About anything. Just talk, talk, talk. For example:
Point out and explain things to him/her. See a cicada? Explain to your child that cicadas burrow into the earth when they are born and stay there for years. When they emerge, they crawl out of the shells and leave them behind.
Notice a manhole cover as you’re walking, and explain they are there are so people can go underground to do work in tunnels, or with utilities. Read the words on the top of the cover.
Quick Links to Free Education Resources
- Cool Summer Reading and Learning for Middle School Kids
- 200 Free Kids’ Educational Resources from Open Culture
- Summer Reading Tips From Librarians from Scholastic
- Summer Travel: Education on the Road from EDSITEment!
- Summer Reading Activities from Education.com; Plenty of reading games for kids.
Lisa Lenhart, PhD
The University of Akron