It’s the end of the school year, and many students are excited to relax this summer, play outside, eat popsicles, have water fights, and all the other good things that come with warm weather and long summer days. Summer is a great time for kids to be carefree kids, but it can also be very detrimental to learning. Many have dubbed the summer months as the “summer slide” because of the learning loss that occurs, which is particularly acute for children living in communities of concentrated poverty.
Considerable research shows that the primary reason the achievement gap between poor children and their more affluent peers widens over the course of their school careers is the long break in learning over the summer. While students from middle- and high-income families progress in reading over summer, low-income students lose 2-3 months learning due to the lack of resources and/opportunities available. Two-thirds of the ninth-grade reading achievement gap can be attributed to this loss in the elementary school years alone. These annual losses accrue each year. Summer months matter.
We believe that one response to combating the effects of the summer slide is an expanding learning time through an expanded school day and/or year. Note that we believe adding more time to the school day/year can be one key support to reverse the effects of the summer slide, not a one-stop solution. Adding more time to the school calendar can provide the opportunity and resources to get low-income children the equitable and rigorous education they need to catch up and excel. More time offers students more individualized learning, fun hands-on projects, and targeted interventions in the subjects they need it most in addition to more time for engaging enrichment opportunities.
We know that expanding learning time takes time to plan, so what can you do now? It may not be too late to organize activities with your children/community. Many activities like going to the library, visiting museums, or using new educational apps can help to engage children in learning. There are also many children who don’t have the resources available- if you have books or time to share try volunteering at a boys and girls club or donate books to a local library. You can make a difference!
Find lots of great information to combat the summer slide for children of all backgrounds and socioeconomic status’ on our TSC Pinterest page.