Scaling the Summer Slide

June 4, 2015

Remember how much fun it was to spend the summer at the playground, find the tallest slide, and then go from the bottom all the way to the top? Sure, it was easier to climb the ladder and slide down like you were supposed to but the kids who craved challenge worked hard to master holding on tight to the sides and scaling the incline one step at a time without sliding back down, until they reached the top. It was a victory worth savoring!

It occurred to me that walking up a playground slide is a good analogy for what students face when they come back to school after a long summer vacation... the summer slide. While kids are relaxing over the summer, and we know that’s important too, they also are losing a portion of the learning they achieved during the previous school year. Summer learning loss is cumulative from year to year, resulting in an ever-widening achievement gap. It’s like trying to scale a playground slide that keeps getting taller so you never reach the top.

In celebration of the upcoming Summer Learning Day on June 19th, here are some quick ideas for activities to make reading, math, science, and social studies a natural part of a child’s summer experience.

Share these activities with families so they can help kids walk effortlessly up the summer slide and be ready for the new school year.

Provide Casual Opportunities for Children to Become Familiar With Reading Material About Their Interests. Books and magazines are great for this and if students are enrolled in a school which subscribes to Britannica School, they can visit the site anytime, anywhere, and on any device and search on a topic that they are curious about. Do one search a week on a keyword and see what articles and images are just asking to be discovered. Then keep a journal to write down interesting facts or note other topics to explore at another time. At the end of the summer, review all of your searches to reinforce how much you learned in just eight short weeks!

Combine Activities With Books. Read an e-book about an activity, such as going to the park, attending a baseball game, visiting a fire station, and then go out into the community to see what’s going on.

For Teens, Build On Their Interests. Search for articles and images (easy to do if they have access to both Britannica School and Britannica ImageQuest) about sports, music, or other topics and have a discussion about what they found out.

Challenge Students to Become an Expert on Subjects of Interest. From sports stats to skiing, coins to cats, space exploration, what lives under the sea, insects, or people from other lands and times.

See the World Without Leaving Your Room. Discover places that fascinate kids of all ages by reading books or taking a virtual trip around the world with Britannica School.

Start a Book Club. Students and friends can read about a topic in which they have mutual interest and come to the club meetings ready to discuss!

Plan a Trip (Real or Virtual) On A Budget. Choose how much you want to spend for your vacation and then research destinations. (Britannica School is great for this!) Add up the transportation costs, places to stay, food, and activities. See how far your money can travel.

Watch Your Garden Grow. Choose a few kinds of plants that your family can grow from seed. (Vegetables like beans and carrots are easy). Research the plants you decided to grow, paying particular attention to the care that different kinds of plants need. Measure their growth every week. When it’s time, reap the benefits of your experiment!

Keep a Weather Log. Track the temperature, conditions, precipitation, and weather events. Research different kinds of weather phenomena that occur over the summer.

What are some of your ideas for reversing the summer slide? We’d love to hear about them!