Summer is just around the corner, which means that students are eagerly awaiting long days of nice weather, relaxed schedules, and time spent with friends instead of schoolwork. And while everyone can appreciate a good lazy day, the academic consequences of an entire summer made up of them are nothing to take lightly. In fact, ASCD reports that, on average, elementary students lose one month of learning over the summer. Even more concerning is the fact that learning loss from this “summer slide” seems to be cumulative. Consequently, it continues to perpetuate the achievement gap between low- and high-income students, who tend to have disparate access to summer learning opportunities.
What can be done to prevent the summer slide? Here are three tips to make the summer vacation months an academically productive time and ensure that students come back in the fall ready to continue learning!
1. Read, read, and read some more
Numerous studies have concluded that reading regularly is one of the most effective ways that students can avoid summer learning losses. Unfortunately, not all students have easy access to reading material. As a teacher, one of the best things you can do for your students over their break is to build excitement around reading as a summer activity. Send your students home with summer reading lists—and talk up your selections before you do so! Community libraries also provide lots of great summer reading programs. Do some research on your local library’s offerings, and share that info with your students and their parents.
Looking for some summer reading activities to send your students home with at the end of the school year? Check out these free resources for pre-K–6th grade students from Reading Eggs and Reading Eggspress!
2. Offer structured summer learning programs
Summer school doesn’t have to be reserved for remediation or credit recovery. It’s also a great way to offer all students opportunities to get ahead or pursue subjects and activities they may not have time for during the regular school year. Online programs are one effective way to offer these opportunities, especially if school or district resources are stretched. Programs like Edmentum’s Plato Courseware offer extensive libraries of core and elective courses, including Career and Technical Education courses to engage students with real-world learning. Summer programs can also be a great chance to partner with businesses and community organizations to give students new, relevant, and exciting learning experiences.
3. Encourage DIY projects
When all is said and done, what students and teachers both love about summer vacation is the freedom to build one’s own agenda—and that can certainly include educational experiences. Push your students to take time over the summer to develop and complete a couple of do-it-yourself projects of their own choosing. There is no need to put parameters on these projects; simply encourage your students to dive into a topic that interests them in a manner that gets them excited. If you do any kind of “genius hour” in your classroom, this kind of summer learning will be a natural extension for your students. Be sure to tell your students to come back to say hi in the fall and show off the outcome of their summer projects to you!
Interested in finding out more about Edmentum’s online solutions to engage students in learning throughout the summer? Check out our Guide to Summer School Success!