Most school districts across the country have decided to continue distance learning through the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Summer programs are opting to minimize enrollment or are canceled altogether. Where does that leave you and your kiddos this summer? In many cases, the answer is, at home (again).
Parents have spent the last few months during the COVID lock down putting on their teacher-hats, sometimes relearning with their children, and other times learning from their kids. Many of the parents I work with have told me that their kids have said (on more than one occasion), “That’s not how we do it in school.”
But with the school year coming to a close, we must now talk about summer and the ever-daunting ‘Summer Slide’ dilemma. If you haven’t heard the term before let me explain:
Summer Slide is a teacher-speak for the academic regression that students encounter during the summer months when educational/academic focus shifts to the backseat. During the three months of summer, students can lose some of the academic progress they’ve made during the school year. Like a muscle, kids’ brains are still growing and learning. If not exercised regularly, then the potential for regression is inevitable.
Who is MOST at risk of Summer Slide?
Emergent readers, reluctant readers, readers who come from low-income households, and ones who are transitioning from one grade band to another are most at risk of Summer Slide. These students are at risk of losing up to a half-years worth of academic growth during the summer months. Think about it this way, if your child is already struggling in literacy, the effects of Summer Slide will only widen the academic achievement gap, resulting with them being far behind their schoolmates during the next school year (a hill that will only become harder and harder to climb as they get older).
What can you do?
First things first, think about how you prioritize reading and literacy in your household. Do you usually talk about reading positively? Is there tension around literacy? Are the adults in your home providing positive reading models? Once you’ve taken stock of how your house prioritizes reading, you can begin to make adjustments to it. By making reading and discussions about reading a daily practice, you can help fight Summer Slide and instill reading habits that will last far beyond summer.
Secondly, kids should be reading every day. I’m going to pause here to be a little controversial. When I talk about students reading every day, I do not mean normal occurrences of reading like reading emails, or recipes, or (gasp) audiobooks. Walking home reading street signs, while it has its benefits, is not the daily reading practices that will combat summer slide; only sustained reading will.
Sustained reading is defined as an extended period, where students focus solely on reading. Sustained reading can look different from kid to kid and home to home; in my classroom, sustained reading meant to get in a comfy spot in the class, one with limited distractions. Sometimes a student would grab a pillow and read in the closet with one book; other students liked to grab a few books (ideal for younger readers) and read quietly with a partner. I typically use a timer to keep track of sustained reading in my class; as the school months tick along, I add time to our reading sessions, which develops students’ reading-stamina. Use the chart below to identify the suggested daily reading times.
|Reader||Time per day||Additional info|
|Emergent readers (>2nd grade)||15-20 minutes||Every day of the week (including the weekend). If the focus is a concern, consider breaking up the time into 2-3 time-slots.|
|Young readers (3rd– 5th grade)||20-25 minutes|
|Middle school (6th – 8th grade)||30-45 minutes|
|High School (9th – 12th grade)||30 – 60 minutes|
Lastly, make reading time interactive and fun. Some kids may need to read aloud to someone or read with someone who can lend aide while reading. After reading make sure to ask follow-up questions about the text. I like to encourage parents to read what their kids are reading. Sharing text with your child will encourage them and help when discussing texts. Make reading a part of your daily conversations by talking about characters and text plot outside of the reading time. I often ask students what they think a character might do in a real-life situation or how their favorite character might respond to a joke. Infusing what your child is reading into your home reinforces positive reading habits and holds students accountable for their reading.
On the bright side!
While Summer Slide can seem daunting, it is important to remember that with a continued reading routine throughout the summer students can maintain or increase their reading growth substantially (especially if students are reading text that challenges them) as they prepare for the next grade.