Oh the dreaded "summer slide!" This euphemism refers to the loss of valuable academic information by a student during the summer months. According to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association, students lose, on average, two months worth of material from the previous school year with this loss particularly apparent in mathematics. At the end of the summer break, students perform worse when taking the same standardized tests that they took at the beginning of the summer. And while many teachers spend the first month of school reivewing information from the previous academic grade, that mateiral and time spent reviewing it varies. Any child can easily fall behind.
There are ways to avoid or slow the summer slide process however. Three easy things parents can do to ensure academic preservation are below. One, or all of these ideas, can increase the changes of your child's success when they return to school this Fall.
1. Read! Read anything and everything! Take a trip to your local library or call your school for recommended reading lists. Reading books during the break keeps our younger students comprehension skills sharpened and our older students' heads in the game. Who knows- they may actually learn something new too!
2. Basic skills sheets! A quick and easy idea, math skills sheets are a way to reinforce multiple skills of all levels. For elementary and middle school students, the basic math skills are the foundation for high school. Each year, we build on these skills, but forgetting them, can be disasterous. Websites like Math-Drills.com and others provide free, printable worksheet for students of all ages. A worksheet a day can add up to a huge difference once school begins.
3. Journaling! We aren't talking about a Dear Diary per se, but writing about your experiences in the summer can have a major payoff. Studies shown that not only can writing lead to improved penmenship and a wider vocabulary, but can also battle mental fatigue and depression. Our younger students often enjoy practicing their handwriting and may enjoy drawing a picture to tell their story in their very own notebook or journal. New experiences will be remembered for years to come and mom and dad may enjoy the little memoir. Our middle school students may balk at the idea of keeping a diary, but diaries have come a long way over the years. Introduce your middle school student to online blogging (with parental controls) to keep their friends and family updated on their summer fun. Or, have them write letters -the old-fashioned way - to send to grandparents. High school students typically have a full calendar during the summer months, but that's no reason to skip on the writing time. Keeping even the briefest journal of your summer activities can later be a huge help when writing those college application essays.