As a parent or guardian, you most likely received the recommended summer reading list from your child's teacher to help combat the “summer slide”. But you might be wondering, what is the summer slide and how important is it really for my child to read this summer?
The “summer slide” isn't a fun trip to the park, rather it's a term educators use to describe the learning loss that occurs when students are not engaged in educational activities during the summer months 1. The "summer slide" can set our children back by not just a few weeks, but by years. This slow start in the new school year can lead to struggles to catch up, especially for children who are already struggling academically.
The cumulative effect of this annual decline can have long-term consequences on a child's overall academic performance and future success. The good news is parents can play a crucial role in preventing the summer slide and ensuring their child's reading success through daily reading and summer learning plans.
Dive in with us as we explore the pitfalls of this seasonal regression, and arm you with practical tips and tools to keep your child's learning on track during the sun-soaked days of summer.
The Link Between Summer Slide and Reading Loss: Short and Long-Term Effects
There are both short-term and long-term effects from the summer slide and it's a direct link to reading loss. Immediate short-term effects can be seen as soon as children head back to school in the fall. Studies show that students perform poorer on standardized tests at the beginning of the academic year compared to the end of the previous school year 3. In addition, it takes students weeks to several months to re-learn skills that were taught in the previous year 4. That's a lot of ground to make up!
Long-term, the cumulative effect of consecutive summers of reading loss can significantly widen the achievement gap 5. This means the more summers a student experiences without engaging in learning activities, the more their reading skills may decline.
The Power of Parental Engagement: How You Can Make a Difference
Parents play a crucial role in preventing the summer slide and ensuring their child's reading success. Studies show that children who read at home with their parents perform better academically. This means that the effort you put in, year-round, as a parent does make a difference. Before we dive into the strategies to prevent the summer slide, it's crucial to understand your child's potential for reading issues and the increased risk due to the summer slide is essential before exploring prevention strategies. A tool like Sharpen Early Advantage Assessment can be vital for this risk assessment.
Here at Sharpen, we are dedicated to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to read at grade level. That’s why we built Sharpen Reading, an evidence-based, highly effective digital reading program that's fun, engaging, and convenient for both you and your child over summer and beyond.
Download our free parent guide to learn more about how the Sharpen family of products can work to support your child’s summer reading journey and prevent the summer slide.
1: Alexander, K., Pitcock, S., & Boulay, M. C. (Eds.). (2016). The summer slide: What we know and can do about summer learning loss. Teachers College Press.
2: Allington, R. L., & McGill-Franzen, A. (Eds.). (2018). Summer reading: Closing the rich/poor reading achievement gap. Teachers College Press.
3: Quinn, D., & Polikoff, M. (2017). Summer learning loss: What is it, and what can we do about it. Brookings Institution.
4: Summer by the Numbers: The achievement gap what happens to children during the summer? (2019) National Summer Learning Association: https://www.summerlearning.org/at-a-glance/.
5: Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Olson, L. S. (2007). Lasting consequences of the summer learning gap. American sociological review, 72(2), 167-180.
6: Kim, J. S., & Quinn, D. M. (2013). The effects of summer reading on low-income children’s literacy achievement from kindergarten to grade 8: A meta-analysis of classroom and home interventions. Review of Educational Research, 83(3), 386-431