As students are wrapping up their first complete school year since 2019, educators have advice for families that want to continue engaging their children in learning throughout the summer, in an effort to reduce what is referred to as “summer slide.”
Summer slide refers to how much knowledge, especially in reading and math, is lost for some students over summer break. Younger students are more prone to loss of learning during extended breaks, and a recent study released by the Northwest Evaluation Association showed that third- through fifth-grade students lost about 20% of their school-year reading gains and 27% of their math gains. , on average.
Research shows that when a student visits museums or attends an educational camp, they are less likely to experience summer slide.
However, Jana Beth Francis, Daviess County Public Schools assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, said ensuring students continue their learning over an extended break can be as simple as keeping in mind three important concepts: interactions, conversations and reading.
“We need people to interact face-to-face,” Francis said, and the lack thereof is seen across our culture and witnessed in schools.
“Our students today need interaction from a whole host of people they engage with,” she said. “They need eye contact, an exchange. Those interactions are so important, even if it’s just sitting together in a park, or sitting side-by-side on the beach. Interact with your child.”
Adults are models for how to have conversations, and sometimes, simply having an exchange of verbal communication can be meaningful for young students, Francis said.
Having conversations is a vital component of making sure all students are ready to learn, and one of the best ways to learn is to talk about things.
“We need kids to have models of effective conversations,” she said.
Reading anything at any opportunity can also help students tremendously, Francis said.
Signs while on a road trip, recipes, books, comics, newspapers, magazines — all of it is the same, and it’s all important, she said.
“It doesn’t matter what you read,” she said. “If your child is reading, they are going to be successful. The great thing about a shared reading experience is that it is not only an opportunity to read, but it’s an engagement in a conversation and a meaningful interaction.”
Amy Bellamy, Owensboro Public Schools literacy coach, said she has been focused on promoting summer reading activities for students of all ages and grade levels to participate in during their break. For example, the school system is encouraging students to take advantage of the summer offerings of the Daviess County Public Library, which are plentiful.
The school system has also been partnering with the library to offer students access to books, ebooks, magazines, audiobooks and more through the Sora App. The two organizations began offering this at no cost to OPS students in 2020.
The past few weeks, Bellamy and the OPS district learning coaches have been visiting classrooms promoting the app. One of the benefits of the app is that district leaders can order and purchase books for students.
Earlier this week, Bellamy said she visited a classroom and left with a wish list of 20 books students were interested in reading. Later that day the books were purchased and available for students to access through the app.
“Our usage for the app has gone up tremendously,” Bellamy said. “Our teachers are sharing it, and kids are getting excited about it.”
She and other district leaders are encouraging students to continue accessing the app and its offerings during summer break.
Tricia Murphy, Whitesville Elementary School principal, said she and the school’s reading interventionist and instructional coach have been thinking outside the box to incentivize summer learning. The school is handing out game cards for students that include 32 activities that can be done throughout the summer.
Activities vary depending on grade level, and include things like working on math fluency skills and reading goals. Students mark off items they complete, and if they achieve a “BINGO” or complete all activities on the card, they receive a prize.
While all students will be invited to participate in the programming, second-grade students will be focused on. They will also receive additional supports throughout the summer.
“This is the first real year of school that our second-graders have consistently had,” Murphy said. “We have quite a few of them who have some instructional gaps. We have seen a ton of growth this year, but there are still some improvements to be made.”
Bobbie Hayse, email@example.com, 270-691-7315