Overcoming the Summer Slide

By Dr. Rebecca Deurlein –

There is a slide that is associated with summer, and it has nothing do with fun. 

The summer slide refers to the dip kids tend to make during the summer months when they are away from school and the daily habits of studying and learning. Studies show that kids lose an average of two months of grade level equivalency over summer break. Remediation when they return to school and waste classroom time on review costs approximately $1,500 per student. The summer slide is by all means costly and real, and for many kids, it can be a devastating setback.Who is hit hardest? Interestingly, the summer slide can affect a wide range of students in various ways.

1. Kids who already struggle in school. These students depend on daily practice and a designed curriculum to continually progress and avoid the backward slip. When the routine and learning expectations are removed, their mind relaxes, and material they previously knew slips away, sometimes as if they never learned it. If you’ve ever tried to learn another language, you know what happens when you don’t practice it regularly. The same happens with all students, but these kids are hit especially hard.

2. Kids who are making steady progress toward a goal. If your kids know where they’re headed and what they want to see for themselves in the future, they’ve likely counted on teachers, coaches, school counselors and the other key players in school life to help them march steadily toward their goals. Remove those support systems, and kids lose their focus and sometimes even their drive.

3. Kids who are doing great in school. Imagine you have committed to healthy eating, and for nine months, you’ve adopted and maintained a healthier lifestyle. You’ve lost weight and are feeling great, and you think you’ve got this beat. Then you depart on a two-month cruise, replete with 24-hour buffets. What are the chances you’ll maintain true to your committed healthy path? And how much work will you have to do to get back on that path when you return?

4. Kids who seem aimless or without a view of the big picture. These kids complete assignments or study for the short term – the grade or the GPA – versus studying for lifelong learning. They count on external forces such as due dates, reminders from others and direction given by adults to outline their days and keep them moving forward. During the summer when these expectations disappear, so does their progress.

If any of these sound like your children, seek out opportunities to engage and educate your children year-round. Heads up, though, kids have a hard time accepting their parents as teachers and tend to balk at doing work during the summer months. A great tutor or summer program catered to your children’s needs and interests both serve unique purposes. Tutors can work with your children according to their specific needs and learning styles. They can be a refreshing change from the traditional classroom and build relationships with your children that are supportive and encouraging. Summer programs offer another way to learn: collectively, as part of a social group, and usually in a hands-on, fun way that makes learning seem less like academics and more like exploration and discovery. Both methods work wonders and turn the summer slide into a huge summer step in the right direction.