Practicing math and reading skills over the summer is extremely important for children, as it helps to prevent the loss of academic skills and knowledge that can occur during the extended break from school. This loss is commonly referred to as the "summer slide," and it can be particularly detrimental for children in primary grades who are still developing foundational skills in these subjects.
Is bridging learning over the summer for your little ones important to you? Are you doing enough to ensure your child doesn’t fall behind in their math and reading skills? What’s the importance of your helping your child learn at home?
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SUMMER BRIDGE: Preventing the Slide
As the school year draws to a close and the summer months approach, many children look forward to a much-needed break from the rigors of the academic year. While it is important for children to have some downtime and relaxation, research has shown that taking a complete break from learning during the summer months can have negative consequences on their academic progress, particularly for learners in primary grades.
During the summer months, children who do not engage in educational activities or receive some form of academic support often experience what is called a "summer slide” for some, or “learning loss” for many others. Both terms refers to the tendency for students to lose some of the knowledge and skills they acquired during the school year, which can put them at a disadvantage when they return to school in the fall. Learning loss, itself, however, is often looked at as a more egregious loss of knowledge and skills and is experienced more often by underrepresented minority children.
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This summer slide/learning loss experience is particularly true for learners in primary grades, who are still developing the foundational skills they need to succeed in later years. For example, children who are not exposed to reading during the summer months can experience a significant drop in their reading comprehension abilities. Similarly, children who do not engage in math activities over the summer may struggle to keep up with their peers when they return to school in the fall.
Research consistently shows that children who do not engage in learning activities over the summer can experience a significant decline in their reading and math skills, with some children losing up to two months of learning progress in each subject area. COVID-19 made the impact even worse. This lack of engagement in learning over the summer, as stated earlier, can make it difficult for children to catch up when they return to school in the fall, putting them at a disadvantage compared to their peers who continued to engage in learning activities over the summer.
Practicing math and reading skills over the summer can also help children to develop a love of learning and a growth mindset, which are critical for academic success. By engaging in learning activities that are challenging but achievable, children can build confidence in their abilities and learn to embrace the learning process.
By providing opportunities for learning and growth over the summer months, parents and educators can help prevent the summer slide/learning loss and ensure that children continue to make academic progress. Parents can support their children in this effort at home by providing access to a variety of learning resources and opportunities, and by making learning a fun and engaging part of their summer routine.
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