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Preventing the Summer Slide

The school year is over—thank goodness! eLearning has come to an end, for now at least. It’s time for summer, sun and relaxation. But wait… Have you heard of the Summer Slide?

That’s the tendency for students to lose some of the gains they made during the previous school year. It makes sense. If you don’t practice, you’re not going to keep your skills up. It’s true in sports and it’s true in academics. And let’s be honest, our kids cannot stand to lose any of what they learned these past few months. That’s especially true this year, with the challenges of eLearning.

Here are a few facts about the Summer Slide:

  • The average child reads for only six hours over summer vacation. 
  • Children in low-income households fall behind an average of two months in reading during the summer.
  • Each new school year, teachers spend an average of four to six weeks re-teaching skills and content.

So, how do you prevent the Summer Slide? 

  • Read. Read, read, read. It’s the most important thing you and your child can do to prevent the Summer Slide. Optimally, they should be reading 20 minutes every day. It doesn’t always have to be book. It can be a magazine, a comic book or a recipe. Just make sure they are reading. In this day of COVID-19, you may have to use your imagination a bit if you’re not comfortable visiting libraries. Have them Facetime a relative and read to them!
  • Cook with your kids. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. For extra credit, double the recipe!
  • Take a field trip to a museum, zoo or local park (as long as you’re comfortable and can social distance). If not, there are plenty of virtual options. You can find some great ideas on the Resource Page of Hillsborough Schools’ website
  • If your child needs help with reading and math, you can take advantage of Hillsborough County Public School’s summer instructional Grab and Go Book Packs for students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. The packs will include a collection of books, supportive worksheets and a Family Guide to Literacy for milestones and fun activities at home. They will help to providing independent reading and practice to spark imagination and keep children on their path to becoming lifelong readers.
  • Hillsborough County Public School’s virtual summer curriculum also includes your middle and high schoolers with virtual classes to enhance their language arts, math, science and social studies. These can keep them on track to advance to the next grade level or to graduate.

Again, we all can use a break. We’ve been eLearning for months now and we’re exhausted. The thought of “teaching” our kids over the summer may make some of us curl up into a ball and cry. 

However, a few minutes of reading every day over the summer could make a HUGE difference in making sure our kids are on level and, in some cases, ahead of the game when it’s time for the new school year.

Originally published in Tampa Bay Parenting’s June Issue.

Laura Cross
Laura Cross
Hillsborough County Public Schools.

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