What is the Summer Slide?
In the ELA context, the “summer slide” is a reading skills learning loss that is a consequence of children not maintaining their
reading activities over the summer months. According to a Brookings Institute article written by David M. Quinn and Morgan Polikoff, the average student falls behind an average of one month’s worth of reading skills during the summer, with children in low income households losing double that. As children grow older, they lose progressively higher proportions of school year gains due to the summer slide. Two thirds of the 9th grade achievement gap prevalent between low and high income households is ascribed to the summer slide.
This academic regression is mainly due to children simply not reading books over the summer. The recent “Kids and Family Reading Report” conducted by Scholastic, contains troubling statistics showing that 14% of kids ages 9-11, and 32% of kids ages 15-17 did not read a single book during the summer of 2018. These percentages have been growing exponentially over recent years, and if they continue along this trajectory, it could mean a troubling future for global literacy rates.
Preventing the Summer Slide
Get kids reading! Reading only 4-6 books over the summer can completely prevent students from losing any reading skills over their school holiday. Giving children access to books– especially a diverse range of books so they can choose topics and genres that interest them– is the most important way that you can help kids beat the summer slide.
Public libraries are an incredible free resource to use all year round, but especially so when the school’s have all locked their doors. Take your kids on an adventure to explore the stacks, join some library reading and storytime programs, and talk to a librarian to help find books based on your child’s interest (most librarians LOVE to find the book that will get someone hooked on reading).
Introducing your child to a variety of different text materials can help keep your child’s attention focused on reading. Magazines, picture books, chapter books, and audiobooks are all great sources of literature for your child to explore. Even cooking with your child and getting them to read a recipe book is a great way to continue reading through the summer while still enjoying a fun activity!
Make yourself at home with books! Reading silently to yourself at home in the presence of your child can help build their reading habits as well. Children tend to mimic adult behaviour, and are more likely to pick up a book themselves if it is a common household activity..
Although keeping the kids themselves reading is one of the best strategies for maintaining those skills, there are other activities that will still make a big difference. Reading aloud is one of the most effective tools for helping struggling readers, Audiobooks are also a great resource for when you’re in the car, or can’t be there to read to your child yourself. Reading books that are above your child’s own reading level will hold their attention, and challenge them to build more advanced reading comprehension skills and vocabulary. While you’re reading, engage in meaningful conversation with your child to keep them engaged, and to give them the chance to practice their comprehension skills. These skills gained will greatly benefit your reader when they go to read on their own.
Kids’ interests can change in the blink of an eye– when a new hobby or obsession takes hold, encourage your child to conduct research on the chosen topic and do a cool project together. It’s a fun way to keep your child reading, researching, and thinking critically.
Encourage your child to keep a summer journal, keeping a record of events and feelings on a daily or weekly basis. It’s a great way to promote reflection and will give your child practice at explaining their feelings, and using descriptive vocabulary.
Finally, one of the best motivators to keep kids reading over the summer is playing reading games. Games like Dreamscape are hyper engaging educational online platforms that kids actually want to play. These games can replace other non-educational
screen time activities, and keep your child reading all summer long!
If you want more ideas on how you can help children overcome the summer slide, open a channel of communication with your child’s educators. Teachers often have great tips and resources to stimulate summer reading, and will know which strategies work best in keeping your child motivated to learn.
Follow the link below to get your kids signed up for FREE for Dreamscape– the best reading game to keep kids from experiencing learning loss this summer.