This most affects children from low-income families, who lose the equivalent of two months of reading skills over the summer while their middle-class peers tend to gain skills. The effects of summer learning loss are cumulative and both widen achievement gaps and increase the likelihood that children from low-income families will drop out of high school.
Many parents are not aware of the summer slide. They think of summer as a time when children get a break from school and have fun. But recent focus groups reveal that when parents know about the summer slide and its impact on school success, they want their children to have learning opportunities, as well as fun, during the summer.
Quality summer programs featuring individualized instruction, parental involvement and small classes can boost student achievement.
Finally, because summertime is a high-risk time for children’s fitness and nutrition, particularly for children from low-income families, ensuring that children can participate in summer activities that promote exercise and healthy eating is critical and supports ongoing learning.
Cedar Valley Readers suggests three important actions for parents to take to help curb the summer slide:
1. Engage children in enriching summer activities
at home or in the community
Why it Matters
• Low-income children lose the equivalent of two to three months in reading achievement over the summer, while their higher-income peers tend to make slight gains.
• By fifth grade, cumulative years of summer learning loss can leave low-income youth 2.5 to 3 years behind their peers.
• High-quality summer learning programs have been shown to improve reading and math skills, school attachment, motivation and relationships with adults and peers.
High-quality and enriching summer activities help students retain what they have learned during the previous school year and help them succeed during the next school year. Such programs, including home-based activities, provide experiences that challenge children, develop their talents, keep them engaged and expand their horizons. Increasing parent access to enriching summer activities can help children limit their summer learning losses.
Cedar Valley Readers is partners with the Family YMCA of Black Hawk County and the Waterloo Community School District to provide the Y Believe Summer Learning Academy. The Academy seeks to build strong, literate, and empowered children prepared to make a difference in them, their families and communities. By providing summer reading, math and STEM enrichment for children who might otherwise not have access to books, the Y Believe Summer Learning Academy plays a much needed role in helping to curb summer learning loss and close achievement gaps – and is a key part of YMCA’s work to ensure a level playing field for all children.
In partnership with local congregations, schools, colleges and universities, community organizations, the Y Believe Summer Learning Academy has the ability to boost student motivation to read, generate more positive attitudes toward learning, increase self-esteem and connect the needs of children and families to the resources of their communities. Read more about the Summer Learning Academy →
Summer activities at home also can prevent summer learning loss. Studies show that even providing more books in the home during the summer months limits summer learning loss among low-income students. The public library is a great resource for a wide variety of free books, and most offer great summer reading programs!
Also check out the link at the bottom of this page for the Cedar Valley Readers’ book list. We are tailoring it for each season!
2. Encourage, support and model healthy eating and fitness
Why it Matters
• When school doors close for the summer months, many students lack access to healthy meals and safe places to play outdoors.
• Research shows that young people’s health may decline in the summer, compared with the school year, due to contributing factors such as lower levels of engagement in physical activity and lack of access to healthy meals.
• Parents play an influential role in encouraging and modeling healthy eating and fitness. Parents with healthy habits tend to have healthier children. Parents’ views on exercise and healthy eating also affect their children’s health.
Studies consistently show a connection between a child’s health and learning outcomes. A decline in health and fitness over the summer can threaten children’s academic gains during the next academic year.
Parents have enormous influence over their children’s nutrition and physical activity. During the summer months, parents can seek out programs that provide opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity for their children, such as Lunch at the Library. Parents also can model good fitness and nutrition in their daily routine and participate in programs that get the whole family involved, such as physical activity programs that have parents and children being active together.
3. Use technology to facilitate ongoing learning!
Why it Matters
• Technology can be a helpful ally in literacy development during the summer, particularly when parents and young children use technology to strengthen their interactions with each other and to improve children’s familiarity with sounds, words, language and knowledge.
• Connected and engaged parents are crucial to children’s success. Parents do not have to be strong readers to make important contributions to their children’s cognitive development and later reading success. Parents who spend time with their children talking and learning, using traditional and digital media, make a difference.
• To ignore technology is to miss opportunities for delivering new content and better teaching to the children who need it most, inadvertently allowing digital divides to grow wider.
During the summer months, students with access to technology benefit from ongoing learning that helps them stay on track or catch up if they are behind. Fortunately, technology is more readily available — at home, local libraries, community organizations and even in public housing — through digital devices including computers, tablets and smartphones. And today’s digital world is filled with online literacy programs, apps and games that promise to increase children’s literacy skills.
PBS Kids offers a wide variety of apps tailored to different age groups. Apps are categorized by area of specialization: Reading, Science, Math, Creativity, Music, Literacy and Social/Emotional development. For a fun way to keep your little one interested in reading over the summer, check out the Super Why! app.
The free Daily Vroom app offers parents daily tips to turn shared moments into brain-building moments. Any effort to increase third-grade reading proficiency should maximize the summer months as a time to catch up, stay on track and remain healthy. Equipped with the right information, tools and supports, parents can make sure their children have healthy and enriching summer.
For more resources relating to the summer slide, check out Cedar Valley Readers’ other initiatives. Cedar Valley Readers offers a variety of events and learning opportunities for parents and families. Read more →