MCSD Whiteboard: Beating the “Summer Slide” by Encouraging Summer Reading

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Summer is a magical time for children.

It’s hard not to be nostalgic when remembering those freewheeling summer days of our youth, full of fun and adventure.

But the end of August comes like clockwork every year and with it the start of a whole new school year. Unfortunately, for many children, this return to school can be extremely difficult, in part due to something educators call the “summer slide.”



The summer slide describes a surprisingly dramatic decline in academic skills that researchers have observed across generations in children. It’s not hard to make sense of it. Children spend all fall, winter and spring practicing these skills every day, then often spend the summer and stop practicing for months.

“Because they don’t practice, they can lose between 20% and 80% of what they learned the previous year,” said Tilila Gunderson, who was a literacy coordinator and reading interventionist at Sunset Elementary. last year, and who will be a special education teacher this fall. “It depends on the kid, where he is, how strong he is with the skills. But Summer Slide is a real thing.



Reading skills may not suffer more or less than other skills, but a loss of literacy skills affects everything else a child does in school.

“Look at the math,” said Erika Miller, instructional coach at Ridgeview Elementary. “If you solve real-world problems, you can’t solve them if you can’t read. Reading is simply fundamental to all subjects. This is the bottom line.

That’s why MCSD educators say summer reading is so important.

“Research has shown that if you can read a minimum of three books over the summer, it can slow that Summer Slide down to almost half,” Gunderson said. “Just three. I consider reading as if it were a sport. If you think about football, these players lift weights in the offseason, they run, they work on their skills. It’s like summer for kids at school. If they don’t lift weights, work those muscles, practice their reading skills, they’re going to be late for school. To do this, they must read.

Different age levels and skill levels require different baselines. MCSD educators recommend making sure children read at least four to five days a week, and for 15 to 20 minutes a day, of course, the more the better.

For young children who aren’t yet reading as much on their own, reading is just as powerful in helping to reinforce and maintain skills from the previous school year.

“Studies show that the words that come out of a device are not the same,” Gunderson said. “They need to see your mouth, hear the intonation, respond. If you read to them, try to do it every day.

For students who may not be as strong or confident in their reading skills to begin with, this summer interview concept is even more important.

“These average to lower readers, we’re seeing a big drop in skills at the start of a new school year,” said Candace Hellander, literacy coordinator at Ridgeview. “Unless they’ve done something to maintain summer reading, whether it’s summer school or working with a parent or guardian over the summer, they generally haven’t maintained those skills. .”

Miller said the slide can have a huge impact on the first few months of school.

“There are a handful of kids who can come back quicker, but for a kid who’s already maybe a bit behind, we’re talking about four to six weeks to get them back to where they were at the end of the year. school year if they have ‘I don’t read,’ Miller said.

Educators stress that summer reading, as much or more than during the school year, should be something a child can embrace and get excited about.

“Summer is a good time to choose books that follow more of a child’s interests, not necessarily just something a teacher chooses,” Hellander said. “It’s more self-selected. A good idea for parents is to get your kids to choose something that interests them to help them maintain those reading skills and ensure it helps them gain confidence and increase their knowledge base. Read through the program.

Gunderson said to get creative.

“If your child has trouble reading or doesn’t like it, find something they like,” she said. “I’ve had boys in my library who hate to read, but I gave them ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid,’ or those new graphic novels. My grandmother called them funny books. Even just comics. The newspaper. When I was a kid, we liked to read the comics page in the newspaper. Whatever they read, ask them to read it. If that means muting a show they’re watching and turning on the subtitles, do it. Get them to read, whatever you have to do.

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