How to Avoid the Summer Slump

By Kimberly Petz

What is “summer slump” or “summer backslide.”  These terms address the regression in skills that students experience when they are enjoying their summer vacations away from their regular course rigor.  While regression can be steep (e.g., up to 25% decline in reading skills), there is plenty that can be done.
 

  • Read daily
     
    • It is recommended that independent readers read for approximately 20 to 30 minutes daily. 
    • Read a variety of text (e.g., non-fiction, fiction, ebooks, poetry, newspapers, etc.). 
    • Read to your child.  Vocabulary building, connection making, and higher-level concept introduction are beneficial no matter your child’s age. 
    • Seek out libraries with summer reading incentives.
    • Many school districts offer online resources for students to bridge the summer gap.  Ask your child’s teacher for passwords that will remain active during the summer months (e.g., Tumblebooks, RazKids, Starfall, i-Ready, Myon, etc.).

 

  • Encourage your children to engage in the writing process.
     
    • Consider a daily dialogue journal. Dialogue journals are informal written conversations. Younger students could draw pictures and label them, with more traditional sentence and paragraph exchanges as your child develops.  Not only does this process encourage practice, but parents can strategically model specific writing skills (e.g., letter formation, word spacing, adherence to capitalization and punctuation rules, etc.).
    • Encourage your child to research out a potential family vacation and to write a persuasive essay backed by their research findings.
    • After reading a new favorite book, suggest that your child re-write the story with an alternative ending.
    • Set your child up with a bucket of water and paint brush.  Have them spell orally presented (developmentally appropriate words) on the pavement or cement before the water evaporates.
    • Consider using story cubes as a fun way to generate stories.

 

  • Set up a word based hopscotch with sidewalk chalk. The following is a lower-level example that can be modified to grade-level expectations. Have your child jump and chant as they learn (e.g., h-a-t spells hat, etc.).

 

 

H

 

 

T

 

C

 

N

 

 

A

 

Y

 

F

 

 

B

 

R

 
  • Research tells us that math skills are highly susceptible to regression over the summer months.
    • Flashcards, Math Fact Wraps, and/or Minute Math Electronic Flash Cards are wonderful options to promote fact fluency.
    • Consider exploring summer math camps. 
    • If you have an older student, perhaps provide your child with a budget attached to the family vacation research project mentioned above.
    • Like for reading, many local school districts offer online resources.  Consider asking your child’s teacher for any passwords that will remain active during the summer months (e.g., i-Ready, Dreambox, Prodigy, Reflex, etc.).
    • Play games with your child.  There are a wide range of games that can aid your child’s math development (e.g., Dominos, Monopoly, Qwirkle, Life, etc.).

Regardless of your approach (online, paper/pencil, games, or direct instruction), there is much to be done to offset the summer slump.  By providing our children with thoughtful learning opportunities throughout the summer, students can return to school with the skills and confidence to move forward.

* Kimberly Petz is a National Board Certified Exceptional Needs Specialist and Educational Diagnostician. As an educational diagnostician she uses standardized testing to assess academic abilities.  Kim is able to identify learning styles, academic strengths and weaknesses, intellectual giftedness, and learning disorders.  Kimberly serves students across elementary, middle, and high schools. Her recommendations have helped students learn strategies that personally work best for them, develop more confidence, and promote academic success.