Teachers dread it. Parents lament it. Kids often regret it once
school starts in fall.
It’s the summer slide — that annual dip in educational activity
that causes kids to “lose” some of what they learned during the
school year. Researchers say children may lose two months of
reading achievement, on average, during summer, and teachers can
spend a month of instructional time re-teaching what has been lost
before moving on to something new.
While the slide can affect all academic areas, it’s of greatest
concern with regard to literacy and math skills. Without regular
practice, these skills can diminish over the summer months.
Research indicates this is especially the case in high-poverty
According to Reading Is Fundamental, the largest children’s
literacy nonprofit in the United States, summer reading loss is
cumulative. By the end of 6th grade, children who do not read over
the summer are two years behind other children, says RIF.
Schools initiate reading challenges, libraries offer reading
programs — yet still, there are students whose motivation to learn
dwindles during the summer.
Spending just 20 minutes a day reading can boost student
achievement — and reading just six books over the summer can
prevent academic loss. Researchers have found that students read
more when they can choose their own books, and 8 out of 10 studies
indicate students who read for fun outperform those who did not.
There’s still time to help your child minimize the slide by
clocking some time with a book. How can you encourage them?
• Talk to your child about the importance of summer reading.
• Make reading exciting rather than thinking of it as a
• Set aside family reading time when everyone grabs a book
and hangs out together reading.
• Create a no TV or electronic game time during part of each
day — or turn on close-captioning on your TV so your children can
• Join a summer reading program at your local library.
• Let your child choose his/her own books.
• Keep a supply of reading materials around the house.
Magazines, comic books, and cookbooks count!
• Set a regular time to visit the library each week — an
appointment that can’t be missed.
• Ask your child questions about the books he or she is
• Read a book to your child.
• Listen to your child read to you.
• Pick a favorite author or series and read all the books.
• Listen to books on tape while traveling.
• Model reading.
Developing summer reading habits can build a foundation for future
learning success, so as parents we need to encourage some
summertime page turning. Remember: Just 20 minutes a day can make
a difference. Every minute is worth it.
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