Summer Learning Loss: Stay on Track Reading This Summer

Discovery Place Kids Rockingham

Summer setback, summer slide— however it’s labeled, summer learning loss is a real and relevant threat to all the hard-won learning children accomplish each year. As parents and caregivers look forward to the summer, intentionally planning summer learning activities can help everyone anticipate and stay ahead of the slide.

Away from the classroom, the outpouring of education resources are severely diminished. During the summer, parents and caregivers must be ready to take on the challenge of providing summer learning activities and resources for children— and help mitigate any learning loss.

Research by David Quinn and Morgan Polikoff from the Brookings Institute support three general conclusions about summer learning loss: 1) total loss is equal to one month of school year learning, 2) the subjects of greatest impact were math and reading, 3) declines were greater at higher grade levels.

Additionally, perceived losses were greater for lower socioeconomic levels. The reason for this distinction, Quinn and Polikoff note, is that lower income students experience a greater reduction of positive, educational inputs. Whereas students from higher socioeconomic groups have greater access to summer programs, resources and experience a far lower reduction in educational inputs.

Despite these differences, all children have the potential to regress in their recently acquired knowledge, particularly in reading. However, with the right mindset, these losses can be reduced— if not stopped completely.

In fact, the benefits to summer reading are huge. The US Department of Education agrees: “This ‘summer slide’ can be avoided by ensuring that children are as engaged as possible in whatever they choose to read—just as long as they’re reading every day.”

In fact, the summer offers a unique opportunity to learn and the positive impacts can be huge— both on reducing learning loss and in providing structure to the summer. Learning during the summer can be done at a low-pressure and leisurely pace, wherein children can explore their own interests and self-guide their learning.

The Department of Education suggests making reading a social act as a way to cultivate reading over the summer. This can be accomplished both inside and out of the home.

At home

Designate a time during the day when reading is the only activity in the home. Young children used to a rest time will transfer to this concept easily. For older kids, there may need to be an incentive attached— 30 minutes of reading followed by a bike ride, screen time or other activity may convince them.

During this social reading time at home, read aloud or individually— though in the same room. An essential part of making this successful is modeling reading as a priority for everyone.

In the community

The easiest way to practice this is by regularly visiting the library. Set time aside each week, or bi-weekly, to visit the local library. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers vibrant summer reading programs for all ages. Additionally, retailers and booksellers often have summer reading programs to encourage reading. Participating in programs like these illustrate the social importance of reading and more incentives for even the most reluctant readers.

Summer is an opportune time for students to continue to develop and practice reading and language skills. Like a musician who commits to daily practice, daily reading will lead to steady improvement over the long haul.

Many parents are falling in love with the fun of story time thanks to Story Time at Discovery Place. Many of our locations offer Story Time which ties together the activities and exhibits seen at the museum in a fun and relatable story for kids to enjoy. The best part, for many, is a chance to relax a bit and gear up for the next stint of exploration at the Museum. For information on Story Time and other events at the museums, check out the full events page.

Battling the summer slide is a matter of being intentional. Given the benefits of summer reading, it is well worth every ounce of effort. In addition to reading programs already mentioned, summer learning activities can easily be found online or in the community. Designating a portion of each day to learning activities can provide routine and educational resources conducive to learning.

Discovery Place Kids museums in the greater Charlotte area offer a wide range of summer learning activities. Visit our events page for information on summer programs, kids camps and new exhibits.

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