At first glance, the term “summer slide” may sound like fun, but in reality, it’s a slang term for summer learning loss, and it’s a problem.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, children can lose the equivalent of two months of reading and math skills over the summer months, leaving them at a disadvantage when school begins again in the fall.
To help avoid any summer setbacks, we spoke with five Dallas-Fort Worth educators to get their tips for keeping learning alive during the lull of summer.
1. The 30-Second Book Selection Trick
Theresa Barnett has taught in Dallas Independent School District (DISD) for 30 years, and she understands that helping your child select books that are reading-level appropriate can be tough. Barnett shares a quick trick: If a child misses more than five words on one page, the book is too difficult for guided reading.
2. No Packet? No Problem.
Kelsey Dwyer, a kindergarten teacher in Fort Worth, recommends the resource sharing website Teachers Pay Teachers. Anyone can create an account, and many downloadable resources are free or low cost. “I got a packet specifically for children entering the third grade with a math problem a day for her to do,” Dwyer said.
3. Look Beyond Sports Camps
Blaine Elliott, a teacher in Mansfield says she sends her sons to summer camps that offer learning enrichment opportunities, as well as fun. “We did Camp Invention where he learned a ton of science, technology and math,” Elliott said. For more learning and academic based summer camps, check our directory.
4. Hit the Road
Summer can be a great time to delve deeper into kids’ interests and get hands-on learning experience. Fort Worth Assistant Principal Juanita White gets her daughters out of the house and exploring their interests during the summers. “My daughters have always been animal lovers. They truly enjoy learning about all types of organisms, which makes ‘learning’ in the summer so much more fun,” White said. The Fort Worth Zoo, Dallas World Aquarium, and Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose are some of the White family’s favorite places to explore.
5. Build Learning Opportunities into Errand Time
Deb Tamez, a first grade teacher in Mesquite, says that any time is a great time to reinforce writing skills. “I love for my kids to make my grocery list,” Tamez says. “When they have to write out something, such as ‘provolone cheese,’ it’s stretching their mind and making them think about how to spell that word.”
6. Find Affordable Resources
Tamez also points to discount stores as being a great resource for summer learning. “I buy poster board and supplies at a dollar store,” Tamez says. Discount stores offer art supplies and books that won’t break the bank, but keep your tots creating.
7. Read, Read, Read!
Several teachers point to summer reading clubs as a great (and usually free!) opportunity for kids to gain footing as a reader. Barnes & Noble and Half Price Books both have great summer reading opportunities. Contact your local library to see what programs they offer kids. Blaine Elliot says any kind of reading, from the newspaper to a simple flyer is helpful. “There are learning opportunities all around,” says Elliott. “You just have to get creative!”
Published June 2015