The answer is simple – yes, it is. According to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association: "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year....” However, let’s keep things in perspective. The report continues and says, “It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills." In other words, the schools are generally accommodating for this dreaded summer slide by review in the first few weeks of a year, so regardless of how hard your kids worked to keep up their skills in summer, they will spend a month reviewing these same skills in school. Good thing that they are still excited about the new year, new teachers, and new classmates, so they will probably not get bored to death before curriculum moves on to new topics.
Summer Rewards and Systems
There are many good ideas out there about making summer learning fun. Usually some rewards are offered (screen time, points, etc.) to ensure kids do their academic tasks willingly. I even made up my own system last year while planning for smart summer. Over past years and especially during last summer, I discovered that all these systems did not work for us and resulted in my daughter doing the bare minimum to “pass on” to whatever reward was promised to her. She also got quite good trying to negotiate some sort of a compromise over the activities she was not wanting to do. So here is my (and hers) assignment this summer:
Discover Intrinsic MotivationAnyone who is interested in parenting topics is probably familiar with recent research on internal motivation and how it is adversely affected by external rewards. I was thinking of myself in school years and how I would be widely excited to get textbooks for the next school year early in summer. Then I would spend some time every day reading the books and doing assignments. Nobody made me do that – I did that because I enjoyed learning and I loved school. My daughter enjoys learning and school too, so why should I take away her internal motivation to learn by turning summer into an extension of her school year? So my commitment this summer is to make summer learning to be directed by my daughter and not by me. There will be no math worksheets or paragraphs to write. There will be, however, board games, computer games, mother-daughter book club activities, and science experiments. I don’t expect we will see much of summer slide at all in our Smarty if we simply let her do what she loves to do best, which is learn at her own pace.
But Is There Anything Our Children Must Do in Summer?
Yes. Reading is an absolutely “must do” item on my list of must do summer activities for kids. Growing Book By Book has these fun library challenges for kids that add an interesting twist to every library visit. Also, each library and many other organizations offer free summer programs with rewards systems. While, again, I don’t think that children should be rewarded for doing things they like anyway, a little extrinsic motivation could be good for reluctant readers.
Your TurnWhat are your thoughts on the preventing summer slide?
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