Summer Slide | How summer can make students fall behind


Every summer some students fall victim to the “summer slide,” the name for the learning loss that occurs during summer vacation. The slide is particularly pronounced for economically disadvantaged students and is a major cause of the achievement gap between them and their more affluent peers.

A Johns Hopkins study of 650 Baltimore schoolchildren found that if a child is not involved in mentally stimulating activities over the summer, their math and reading levels regress. This is particularly damaging for low-income students. These students acquire skills at an equal or greater rate than high-income students during the school year. However, during the summer months, while high-income students are traveling, attending camp, and reading books, low-income students without access to these resources can fall behind.

This pattern, if repeated every summer, becomes cumulative. If families and schools fail to address the summer slide, the achievement gap becomes practically insurmountable.

What can parents do? The good news is that the summer slide is simple to combat. Parents who take their kids to museums, parks and libraries, encourage them to read, and set good examples by reading and keeping lots of books and magazines around the house are already stopping the slide. These activities prevent learning loss and in some cases actually increase reading and math scores when the students head back to school.

More information about the summer slide and ways to stop it can be found at the following websites:

•   The National Summer Learning Association
•   Reading is Fundamental article about the summer slide

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