Summer vacation is an important time for school-aged children. For three months they get to relax, play, and just be kids without the pressures of school. Unfortunately, this does come with an academic downside. Come fall students will have lost a significant portion of what they learned in the previous school year. This loss is known as the summer slide.
A student’s instructional level is usually measured by a Rasch UnIT (RIT) score. Research conducted in 1996 suggested that students gain 4-16 RIT points in math and reading during the school year only to lose 3-5 of those points over the summer. The concerning part of this is that if a child is reaching the minimum average of academic achievement for their grade and age group all of their progress is lost over the summer.
Luckily, a drastic summer slide is not necessarily a guarantee for our students. Studies have shown a correlation between RIT declines and the personal factors of a student’s life. Economic class for instance has shown to be a major factor with lower and working-class children experiencing more loss than their wealthier peers. While unfortunate, class differences do show that the summer slide is dependent upon one’s summer experience and is therefore an avoidable phenomena.
Which brings us to 2020. With the stress of world events looming over our children, parents and educators are preparing for a COVID-19 slide. This summer will take the usual summer obstacles and add an additional layer of anxiety and cabin fever. Any resulting slide will be an extension to the setbacks of spring’s distance learning chaos. Then there’s the disheartening idea that kids who gained more from remote learning may actually lose more over the summer.
Working to combat the COVID-19 slide may be the last thing most parents want to do after months of filling in for educators. Summer is an opportunity for many moms and dads to take a much-needed break from balancing teaching and work. But don’t throw in the towel just yet.
While summer school is a recommended strategy for keeping kids on track this summer, there are more activities for your children to engage in, in order to preserve their academic gain.
Some of you may be lucky enough to live in a school district that does the work for you and assigns a summer reading list to your student. If not, help your child channel their interests into related reading. Hopefully, your local library is open or providing digital services. Alternatively, you can encourage your community to actively utilize the nearest Little Free Library. Has your child exhausted the list of titles on your subscription television streaming services? Consider swapping Netflix for an ebook service instead.
S.T.E.M education is notoriously easy to incorporate into fun and games. Whether you send your child to an online summer camp, purchase a science kit or hold a daily viewing of the National Children’s Museum’s STEAMwork videos, any inclusion of S.T.E.M in your child’s routine is a powerful force against the summer slide.
3. Video Games
We know. Many of you would have to go to war with your children before they choose the previous examples over gaming. So here’s a much less dramatic compromise guaranteed to keep the peace in your family. Encourage your child to play popular video games with an educational value. Some of today’s most acclaimed games such as Minecraft and Little Big Planet are wonderful learning tools that push kids to put their academic skills to use. So if your child doesn’t game, try it. If they never stop gaming, try and nudge them in the right direction.