Avoid the Summer Slide!

I know, this title seems rather odd coming from me, the children’s movement advocate! This blog post is not about avoiding the local playground; instead it’s about avoiding the slide of summer learning loss.

In 1996, a research study reported the effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores.

Since then, it has become widely understood that children lose a lot of ground during the summer break. To combat this, some schools and homeschools have introduced year-round classes with smaller scheduled breaks throughout the year. But how realistic is this? And, how concerned should we be about this summer slump?

Learning Slide

NWEA reported that we do indeed have good reason to be concerned about summer learning loss.

“Summer learning loss was observed in math and reading across third to eighth grade, with students losing a greater proportion of their school year gains each year as they grow older – anywhere from 20 to 50 percent.” NWEA, Kuhfeld, 2018

I can certainly understand the challenge that this research data is for us, as parents and educators. Do parents today really need more pressure in an already highly stressed, pressure-cooker lifestyle? I can personally attest to the fact that it takes some intentional thinking and planning to make this happen in your home during the summer.

Let’s Do Just a Little More!

What if we took off the pressure of adding more stress to our lives and instead focused on doing just a little MORE?

A little more READINGMOVINGTHINKING…or INTERVENTION? If doing a little more could prevent the summer learning slide, it would be so worth the energy. These efforts should not be equated to summer school punishment, but more about offering engaging options to set students up for success for the new school year.

What kind of ‘little MORE’ could we implement this summer?

  1. READ a little MORE

    1. Read aloud to your children – Did you know that reading to your children well into the high school years is a very beneficial activity? It certainly develops a love of reading, an engagement with the story, increases auditory attention span, and creates a wonderful opportunity for discussion.
    2. Set some summer reading goals with your child – How many books could they read in a day? In a month? Provide a reward. You will be surprised what goals they will set for themselves! Last summer, my young grandchildren had a summer read-a-thon, sponsored by Nicole’s Story Corner and Usborne. They asked parents, grand-parents and family friends sponsor them to read. And, at the same time they raised funds to earn books for a non-profit young mom’s program. It was so fun to see these 3-7 year old’s set their own goals and meet them.
  2. MOVE a little MORE – Explore, Run, Jump

    1. Did you know that physical exercise and balance play a very important part for learning? Isn’t it great that just by letting our kids explore in the outdoors and run through puddles and catch crayfish in the river, they are developing their brain for better learning? So let’s get our kids moving!

“When we exercise, particularly if the exercise requires complex motor movement, we’re also exercising the areas of the brain involved in the full suite of cognitive functions. We’re causing the brain to fire signals along the same network of cells, which solidifies their connections.” Dr. John Ratey, 2008

  1. THINK a little MORE – Challenge the Brain

    1. Theme Study – Find a topic that excites your children and dig deep to find some interesting facts to share. Create a model of it. Make a mess!
    2. Help them fall in love with math in everyday life activities – Do some baking. Take them with to do groceries and choose which product is the best deal. Have them budget plan for your vacation.
    3. Talk, Talk, Talk – Did you know that language develops thinking? Ask higher-level thinking questions, like ‘I wonder what would happen if’ or ‘what would you do in this situation’. Recently, my 5-year-old grandson went to a Birds of Prey exhibit. Upon returning home, I asked why they were called Birds of Prey. He told me that they hunted prey for their food. I then asked him what the birds at my feeder would be called. He said, “I don’t know. I guess Birds of Seed.”

“Conversation builds executive brains.” Jane Healy, 1990

  1. A little MORE INTERVENTION – GeerLINKS Educational Therapy

    1. Interactive Metronome – Did you know that simply by clapping to a synchronized beat, you can improve timing in the brain to improve attention and focus, processing speed and other cognitive functions? And guess what? At GeerLINKS we can set you up to administer this in your home for 15-30 minutes/day.
    2. Rx for Discovery – Did you know that GeerLINKS provides small group instruction in reading, writing or math? Two times a week for one-hour sessions could boost confidence and competence in your child.

Let’s step into summer with a plan to help our children continue on their learning adventure. Help them to see that learning continues throughout all of life and doesn’t end when the last summer bell rings! Before you know it, the evenings will cool down and the back-to-school shopping will begin.

And finally, please go to the park and enjoy the slide!

“Make summer learning and summer programs a priority” reported by Education Week, “It doesn’t make sense for us to make huge investments in children’s learning during the school year and then to pause those investments and walk away from the gains children have made during the school year and let them fall away.” www.educationweek.org

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