While the notion of a summer slide might conjure up images of brightly colored playgrounds with curvy tubed slides, this “summer slide” actually refers to the loss of academic gains made during the previous school year. Sadly, the most im
pacted students tend to be those from low income families; those that are already at a disadvantage when it comes to achieving their full potential.
According to education expert Richard Allington, summer slide accounts for as much as 85 percent of the reading achievement gap between lower income students and their middle to upper income peers. Additionally, teachers may spend more time at the beginning of the school year re-teaching previously covered material and strategies that were forgotten or under used over the summer.
While it may seem like a complex problem, the solution to summer slide is surprisingly simple. Read! Children of all ages need to read over the summer. There is no need for special programs, workbooks, or fancy flashcards. A library card with regular trips to the colorful shelves of the public library can do the trick.
This theory makes sense. Think of the world’s great athletes or musicians. They spend countless hours practicing their sport or instrument. If they were to take a few months off, they too would fall behind their peers. The same is true for reading. Children must consistently use their reading “muscles” over the summer to keep them in shape. Additionally, spending time listening to your child read as well as talking about what they are reading has an impact on comprehension and their motivation to read. Quick book chats can make all the difference in sustaining a summer of reading.