June 23rd, 2024

How to avoid the summer slide: Keep your kids reading as much as possible

By Peggy Revell on July 5, 2018.

At the Medicine Hat Public Library, Brennen and Andy Stuart decide on which books they'll be reading over the next week or so. Reading is encouraged for children over the summer to prevent them from "sliding" back on their learning before the start of the next school year.--NEWS PHOTO PEGGY REVELL


The summer slide — no, it’s not a trip down the play equipment at the park.

It’s how children over the summer can slide back on the skills and development from the school year past.

“There’s a fair amount of research that suggest that over the summer holidays, school-aged kids lose a little ground on the skills that they picked up during the previous school year,” said Mark Davidson, superintendent of Medicine Hat School Division 76.

How much of a slide there is depends on the child, as they’re all different, he says.

“But almost universally, kids will step back a little bit in their skills over the summer. And that’s why teachers spend a fair amount of time at the beginning of the year reviewing content and skills from the prior year in order to make sure they’re ready for the current program,” he said — this means the smaller the slide, the quicker teachers can move forward with teaching new content and skills.

Preventing the slide shouldn’t come at the expense of summer fun.

“The first thing to keep in mind is, summer is supposed to be fun and supposed to be fun for kids,” said Davidson. “So we’re not advocating pushing kids through an at-home school all summer … addressing summer slide shouldn’t be work for (parents) or their children.”

The slide solution?

“Read lots of books. It’s really that simple,” said Carol Ann Cross-Roen, children’s librarian with the Medicine Hat Public Library, reminding people that library cards for children are free.

Reading helps children to retain what they’ve learned from the school year, she said.

“The key is to get them reading what interests them, and sharing in the experience with them,” said Davidson, and this includes engaging with them about what they’re reading — asking them to read out loud, and share their thoughts about what they’re reading, how they feel about it, and why characters did what they did.

“By keeping up with reading over the summer, it keeps kids engaged.

“If you want to help your kids keep their numeracy skills, keep their math skills up — play games with them. Card games, any kind of game that involves math. Engage them in mental math activities in a fun way,” said Davidson.

Math concepts can be kept up through activities like baking, said Cross-Roen, as children will learn about measurements and fractions.

“It doesn’t have to be sitting down with a workbook. You can incorporate it into their daily life,” she said.

Screen time —which can be a challenge year-round — is also something to watch out for during summer months.

“You have students who really legitimately become addicted to having a device in their hand or in front of their face all the time. We know it’s good for kids to get out and unplug and get out and get face to face with their friends and family and experience the world directly,” said Davidson.

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