What is Summer Slide?

As the new school year begins, students may find themselves overwhelmed by the plethora of new information encountered. During the hazy first few weeks of back-to-school time, you may notice your child has lost skills they learned the year prior over the summer months. Summer learning loss, also known as summer slide, occurs when students don’t retain all of the important information taught in the classroom during the last school year. While this is often a common occurrence for young students, there are ways you can work to prevent it come next summer break. 

Looking to increase academic retention in your student and ward off summer learning loss in the future? Keep reading to learn how you can understand, identify, and prevent summer slide. 

Understanding summer slide

Summer slide is a term that encompasses any learning loss a student may experience when returning to school after summer vacation. While it’s important for your student to rest and refresh their mind over the summer, it’s also vital to incorporate some level of learning during these months. Summer learning loss can be detrimental to students in a multitude of ways, including:

  • Decreased reading level

  • A lapse in foundational math skills

If your student experiences summer learning loss, they may get discouraged more quickly when doing homework, frustrated that they don’t recall various concepts. Reassure your child that this is often a common occurrence for students, and work with them to find creative ways to relearn the material. 

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Identifying summer slide

If your student is noticeably struggling with concepts and subject areas that they focused on in the school year prior, they may be experiencing summer slide. Initiate honest conversations with your student about how their classes are going so far this school year. Ask in what areas they’re struggling, and if any of the concepts were learned previously. If you’re able to identify that your child is suffering from summer learning loss, encourage them to review notebooks from last year that may jog their memory or offer a deeper insight into the concept or subject matter. 

Additionally, reach out to your student’s teacher to discuss any extra credit opportunities that are available to bridge the knowledge gap. Teachers are typically quite familiar with summer slide, and likely have strategies to help students tackle it. Catching any signs of summer learning loss early in the school year can give your student an opportunity to address it early on and get back on track. 

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Preventing summer slide

Looking ahead, there are many ways you can prevent summer slide. While keeping the restful aspect of summer vacation in mind, develop a learning schedule for the summer months. Encourage your student to read—or practice their reading skills, depending on their age—for a specific amount of time each week. Create fun games, such as keeping track of the cost of food at the grocery store, to keep basic math skills fresh in their minds. Also execute engaging STEM projects, both inside and outside your house, that will allow them to practice foundational science skills learned the previous year. While it can be challenging to motivate your student to learn during the summer months, getting creative with your methods can keep them excited about their education. 

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Summer slide impacts numerous students each year. If you find that your student is one of them, discuss with your student and their teacher ways in which they can regain lost skills and start the new school year off on the right foot. 

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