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Wednesday, July 27, 2016

What is Summer Slide?

You've probably heard these words before, the term for what happens when children lose approximately two months of academic gains over the summer.  Instead of maintaining their progress from the prior school year - or possibly gaining ground and moving ahead - they slide backwards.  Hence, the famed Summer Slide.

What is the impact?

Research suggests that when children don’t read over the summer, they can fall behind by more than two years by 5th grade. (Links to an external site.)

Other data suggests an even greater effect:

“Summer reading loss accounts for roughly 80% of the reading achievement gap between more and less economically advantaged children” and this gap, which builds over a child’s school career, can be greater than four academic years, a staggering difference especially when considering the demands of the Common Core State Standards.” (School Library Journal, 2013)

So how will we do this?  How will we keep our students - and children - reading and writing over the summer?  How will we combat the evil Summer Slide?

How can this blog help?

Here's where this blog comes in.  The purpose is to provide tips on how to engage your child with literacy over the summer.  When we integrate literacy into the framework of our daily lives, we model for children the real purpose that reading and writing serves for us. Now, I know that it's already July but we still have almost half of the summer left.  So please stay with me!  And of course, many of these ideas will help to enhance their school year experience as well.

Don’t get me wrong.  I agree that summer should be a time for kids to relax, have fun and take a break from the demands of regular school.  To catch fireflies at night, swim at the pool or ride bikes to the park.  A time to be silly, in unstructured, playful ways.  To be kids. So I'm not suggesting that we require a school-like schedule for them during the summer, with rigid requirements for math, reading and writing.  But a little time to practice concepts learned - in an engaging, authentic and meaningful manner - will go a long way.

In each new post, I will share a new strategy, tip or idea, one that is practical and easy to implement at home, without requiring a specific background or teaching expertise.  It's a no brainer that daily independent reading is critical so you will see that included in multiple ways, such as how to find "just right" books, how to discuss books with your child and how to ride the wave of summer library programs.  One of my favorite Richard Allington quotes is this: "If they don't read much, how they ever gonna get good?"

Enough said.  

And did you know that reading aloud is one of the single most important things that you can do to help your child grow as a reader? (and writer)?  So you will find info on that here as well.

Finally, keeping children active as writers can often feel like a chore.  (Have you ever felt that way??)  My hope is that over the course of these posts, you will find easy and simple ideas to keep your child writing at home, from grocery lists, to summer journals and even outdoor sketching.

These ideas are by no means the be all, end all of what you can try.  But they are a place to start, to dip your toes in the water. (I meant that figuratively, of course, but since it's summer, maybe that will take on a literal meaning as well!).  

Above all, I hope that you find the posts here to be meaningful, relevant and inspiring.  And I would love to hear your comments so please share your own thoughts here (i.e. what worked well, what didn’t work, additional strategies that you have tried, etc.).  Let's begin partnering together now to beat Summer Slide and instead help our children continually grow as readers and writers.


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