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School is out and for most students, now is the time to have some fun in the sun. Summer break is typically a time for students to play outside, enjoy online gaming with friends, sleep in, or to simply escape the demands of the school year alarm clock. While we realize that this downtime is necessary for students’ social and emotional growth, it can also lead to what we know as the “summer slide.”
What is the Summer Slide?
The summer slide, or summer learning loss, is often indicated when students return to school after summer break, and it becomes clear that there has been an identifiable decline in their academic knowledge from the previous school year. According to a study conducted from the data provided by the Northwest Evaluation Association (NWEA), in which students in grades 1 through 6 were observed over five summers, 52% of students lost an average of 39% of their total school year gains during the summer months.
Summer Learning Resources
As district leaders, it is always essential to consider how you can best support these efforts while maintaining a level of fun and enjoyment for students. Consider using the following engagement resources:
- Learning Workshops: A great way to continue learning is to offer in-person or virtual workshops for students. Some areas of focus could include STEM based learning, virtual field trips, family game night, core subject bingo, hands on projects, and make it/take it activities. Having these activities structured by school or even grade level can provide additional support while facilitating fun and engaging learning opportunities.
- Videos On-Demand: Having videos readily available can be yet another essential resource for connecting with students. Pre-recorded videos can be shared using platforms such as REMIND, ClassDojo, and even Google Classroom. These fun and interactive instructional videos should include information for student learning as well as tutorials.
- Community Partnership: Your local public library may offer a summer reading program, which can encourage students to read over the summer. Many of these programs include educational resources that are in alignment with the theme of the program and the curriculum. These programs may offer support for the students as well as for the entire family. Across the nation, you can find access to many of these free programs by contacting your nearest public library to explore options for student participation.
- Social Media: Outreach can come in many forms. Consider using your district’s social media platforms to share with your school community. Check out a few ideas below to help stay connected with students during the summer:
- Summer Learning Calendar: There are many companies with ready-made templates such as the one by Lake Shore Learning which provides a free calendar and clip art images to create your calendar. One way to jump-start this initiative is to create a summer learning calendar that can be instituted over the span of 2-4 weeks. Calendars can be built with the student learner in mind.
- Live Reading: Districts can develop a reading series in which K-12 leaders stream via their preferred district platform in a webinar format with a read, pair, share segment. This segment could provide resources for student engagement, “must read” books, story time, readers’ theater, and even reading celebrations.
Allowing students to take ownership of their learning is critical when addressing the summer slide. In most cases, students read for two reasons: for information or for entertainment. According to the Scholastic Kids & Family Reading Report, 58% of children ages 6 to 17 say they love or like reading books for fun, and 52% think that reading books for fun is extremely or very important.
Students in areas with greater opportunities for access to youth centers, libraries, and learning camps are not always impacted in the same way as students with fewer resources that live in underserved areas. In addition, socioeconomically disadvantaged students and those without Internet access or devices are often at a greater risk of being impacted by the summer slide.
As district leaders, every opportunity to provide an extra boost of learning support is always an opportunity well taken advantage of. As we know, the summer slide does not affect all students equally. However, we understand that there are benefits in cultivating students' love for learning. Here at Kajeet, we commend district leaders for their innovativeness and hard work as they continue to increase engagement opportunities while decreasing the summer slide.
Krystle Pearson, M.Ed. is the Kajeet Education Sr. Marketing Manager, bringing with her 16 years of experience, including her most recent role as a K-12 Director of Technology. She also serves on the Executive Board for the Virginia Alliance of Black School Educators.