17 May 2012 2 Comments
By Lisa Dalesandro/@abookmama
Author of “Raise a Reader: 25 Effective Ways to Get Kids Reading”
There’s an old axiom in education that goes — you get dumber in the summer.
If you have a child who is struggling with reading or any subject in school, you may be even more tempted to give all those tedious school related activities a rest for summer’s three short months.
However research shows that children who don’t read or continue with their education in some way actually lose knowledge over the summer. It’s estimated that school summer breaks will cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged students being even more greatly affected losing up to three months of reading progress. That loss has a cumulative, long-term effect.
As they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it.
In 2009, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan described summer learning loss as “devastating.” Educators refer to it as the “summer slide.” And, no, they aren’t talking about a trip to the water park or that long yellow plastic thing that gets spread out over your lawn.
This “summer slide” or “summer setback” gets worse as the years go by. Those precious few months of loss in reading skills compounds over the years so by the time a child reaches middle school, those who haven’t read during the previous summers may have lost as much as two years worth of achievement.
As luck would have it, it turns out that independent reading is perhaps the most effective way to combat any loss over the summer. A study of 1600 sixth-graders in eighteen schools showed that the reading of four to six books during the summer was enough to alleviate the summer loss. There is also evidence to indicate this summer reading helps improved spelling, vocabulary and grammar.
As the summer grows near, make sure your child finds at least four good books to read and they will likely avoid any summer reading loss.