Once upon a time, this was the only summer slide we thought about.
Fun. Cool. Refreshing.
Just enough of a challenge to get the adrenaline flowing.
The "summer slide" everyone talks about now is the loss of learning that takes place between the day kids start summer vacation and the day they go back to school.
Call it brain drain, summer set-back, or summer slide - summer learning loss is real. Numerous studies show that there is a significant slide in knowledge from the end of school in June until it’s start-up after break. An average of a full two months is lost! (One study using data from over half a million students in grades 2-9 (from 2008-2012) found that students, on average, lost between 25 – 30 percent of their school-year learning over the summer.)
Teachers and students feel its pains when school resumes after summer vacation.
What, exactly, does that mean?
Students who were given the exact same standardized test at the end of one school year, then the beginning of the next scored an average of two months behind where they were before vacation.
This becomes increasingly important in the current climate of education today - where everything is accelerated, and the emphasis is on the grade - not so much the learning. It's even more important to those who are struggling to keep up with (for them) unrealistic standards.
The flip side is that studies also show that your brain needs a "vacation" to function optimally. Workbooks, drills, more of the same old, same old are not the answer. And, students who go to "academic" camps do not necessarily fair better at the start of school. Their brains are fatigued.
There are some general ways to combat summer slide. All involve experiential activities that are fun for kids and adults alike; that cause them to think; that ARE NOT drills or quizzes.
Here are 5 to try:
Read to your kids, with your kid, around your kid. It doesn't really matter what kids read - just do it. It doesn't matter if it's not on grade level. It doesn't matter if the back of a cereal box. Do it for the pleasure of reading.
Make it an interactive experience. Throw out the need for perfectionism and neatness. Allow your kids to get down and dirty and messy. Messy can be cleaned. The experience should be relaxed and fun. Two easy recipes are ENGLISH MUFFIN PIZZA'S and, if you're really daring, FRITTATA - and let the kids crack the eggs. Just make sure you have extra. What's digging out a couple of shells compared to the sense of accomplishment, learning, and bonding that will come out of a positive experience?
3. ST(R)E(A)M EXPERIMENTS:
STEM with reading, writing, and the arts added. Sounds complicated but it's as easy as one, two, three.
1. Make predictions. Make sure to write down your hypothesis.
2. Perform the experiment, following the sequence of directions.
3. Record your results. Was the hypothesis proven, or disproven? (There is no right or wrong - just proven or not). Discuss your results - Why you got the results you did.