The Summer Slide and How to Avoid It

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It's late June and by now most schools are out. For many students and families, this means a long break until the next school year begins. While that may sound like a good idea for homework weary students, that plan can cause adverse effects most notably, the summer slide.

The summer slide “is the tendency for students, especially those from low-income families, to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year.” It happens primarily because academic skills, like anything else, atrophy when not used.

So, how can students avoid the summer slide? Simple: use the skills and knowledge they learned in school over the summer. Here are four ways to prevent the summer slide:

1.       Read

The summer is the perfect opportunity to read book of their choice.  Reading comprehension is a struggle for some students and practicing reading over the summer can help students maintain and even improve their reading levels and reading comprehension skills. Keeping up a semi-consistent schedule of reading ensures that students are exercising the muscles they built during the year.

2.       Summer Camp

Many summer camps offer a wide range of enrichment activities that will keep minds stimulated all summer. But beware, all summer camps are not created equal. Some camps have more academic activities than others. Regardless, you would be hard-pressed to find a camp that was not at least better than sitting around playing xbox all summer.

3.       Go places

There are a number of reasons to go places in the summer. Better weather, more time, special deals, but it’s also a good way to keep the mind occupied. Going to the zoo or going on a hike is fun, but can also be very educational and help students draw connections to concepts they learned in school.

4.       Do School Work

Many view it as sacrilege to do work that wasn’t assigned to them, especially over the summer. Doing a few work packets or math problems won't kill anyone and it will leave students in much better shape for the fall, which is exactly why some schools assign work over the summer anyway.

The summer slide is a common, but not an inevitable side-effect of doing nothing all summer. Avoiding it is as simple as exercising your brain. Many schools and districts are now being more proactive when it comes to summer activities and work to help students avoid the summer slide, but you don’t need them to prevent sliding backwards. You just need a few books, math problems, and a desire to now lose progress.

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.