There is nothing more relaxing than having a nice break during the summer. Time away from class work and homework can feel like the best escape! While it's great to give the brain a little bit of a break, it is important to keep in mind that summer slide is a real thing.
In case you aren't familiar, summer slide is the phrase we use to describe the slide backwards that many children make in learning skills over the summer. And while it has the potential to impact all children, those with disabilities can feel its impact the most.
Did you know that kids can lose as much as two to three months of math and reading skills over the summer? This means that teachers must spend the first few weeks of each new school year re-teaching the skills and concepts from the previous year. It adds up to a lot of lost instructional time.
All students experience summer slide, but some kids are more susceptible, especially those who have any form of learning challenge, whether it's attention deficits, language impairments, or even access to the traditional curriculum.
The impacts of summer slide are avoidable, however, engaging your child for 2-3 hours a week (which actually means 15-20 minutes a day!) can make a world of difference in what and how much they retain over the summer break.
Here are some tips to keep their brains engaged while also having fun:
Have you been to your local library lately? You might be surprised to learn about the summer programming that is happening there. Many, if not most, town or school libraries have story hours, make-and-takes, and events that are directly supportive of children of all ages and abilities.
Through a library, we can expose our kids to more books and magazines, in more formats than we can afford to buy! We are also building positive, playful connections with literacy, which supports motivation. Libraries are cool and comfortable, in every sense of the word!
Read-alouds are a good chance to introduce them to books they may not be able to explore independently. Audiobooks count too!
Opportunities to write are extremely impactful for literacy learners! Find ways to introduce it naturally and introduce real purposes and contexts for writing. Even if your child is not yet a conventional writer, scribbling and selecting letters from stamps, stickers or a keyboard is an important and necessary step in writing development. Take pictures and ask your child to label them in a scrapbook. You can honor every attempt at writing, while also modeling how you write words and sentences. Encourage all of their writing efforts, even before they have the ability to spell or write conventionally.
And remember literacy time with your children can be both fun and restful, especially during the summer! Singing, playing, reading, and writing will refresh you and them and prepare you for a new school year. And while you are at it, you'll be helping to reverse that summer slide!