Summer Slide? Or, Summer Soar!
Teachers and parent dread it. Students just push past it. And schools and districts really can't do much about it.
We're talking about the so-called "summer slide". The theory - which all teachers will tell you is pretty much a fact for most kids - is that students lose academic ground over the summer because, well, it's vacation. They gain so much academic ground during the school year, but don't use the information and skills during the weeks between June and August. Therefore, they lose a noticeable chunk of it. This means reteaching. And reteaching is wasted time.
But here's the thing - it doesn't have to happen.
Students can have a fun relaxing summer and still GAIN ground on school rather than lose it. Here are some proven techniques for making this happen in language arts, math and science, among other subjects.
1. Choose high quality summer camps. `Look for programs that are built by teachers and possibly run by teachers. If the camp doesn't have a syllabus or curriculum you can peruse, it's probably not serious about teaching. Here's a good article that spells out some interesting considerations.
2. Choose a great book (even better if there's a movie that matches) and read it with your kid. Either read together, or read simultaneously. Or do both! Talk about what's happening and what you think will happen - and ask your kid a lot of questions. Then, once you're done, if there's a movie, watch it together. Obvious choices are Harry Potter, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lord of the Rings, etc. Lots and lots of choices. Here's a useful wiki link.
3. Enroll your kid in a fun course, either online or in person. All kids love something and I guarantee there's somebody out there with a fun course. You just have to do the research. They can learn to build a website, or get really good at photography, or learn to build their own YouTube channel. Helping them become creators rather than consumers over the summer will make a huge difference in how much academic ground they lose.
4. Have them teach you how they were taught to do math during the school year. Let's face it, kids are getting a lot of different techniques and strategies and wouldn't it be fun to have them teach you? You may need to do some research with them to make sure they're doing it right. Your district homepage should have plenty of parent resources for the math programs. And YouTube is just crammed with people eager to show you what they know!
Your kids can SOAR over the summer instead of sliding. It just takes a little thought and commitment. And if you're sneaky, they won't even know whats going on most of the time.
Have a great 2018 summer!
Jeff Macloud, Owner, Napa STEM Academy