The loss of learning that students experience over summer vacation is a well- established phenomenon in education. So let’s take a look at some ways–beyond traditional summer programs, summer learning packets, and welcome letters–to slow the Summer Slide and gain valuable teaching time in the fall.
Walk it, and Talk It-First, model ways that you continue to learn during the school year and throughout the summer if possible. Share a picture of your group in professional development. Post a video of you watching a YouTube video about how to build a fence, a fire pit or a picnic table. Just let them know that you are a learner, and learning does not have to be silent reading or math drills.
Don’t Forget Tech- Make sure your students, and their parents, know about your online learning tools that are available for use through the summer.
Think Social-Use established social media connections to send learning resources or problem-based learning projects to families. Just be sure the delivery system you choose is approved by your building administrator and never communicate privately online with a student.
Appeal to the Students Interests-Some of the biggest Summer Slides come from students who are not interested in traditional subjects. Use what you know to get them hooked into doing, creating, and thus learning. Whether you send snail mail or electronic communication, personalize the two or three you need to in order to get those students thinking about their unique interest and wanting to know more.
Create a Summer Challenge-Challenge your students to learn to do something new over the summer and report on it with photographs or video when they return in the fall. Students may learn to play an instrument, build a fort, make a movie, create a travelogue of summer trips, or write a story; the ideas are endless.
Become a Summer Learning Coordinator-School districts are getting innovative and creating positions to reduce summer learning loss. These coordinators share information about summer learning programs and stay in touch with the most vulnerable families to encourage learning projects.
Hopefully, by slowing the Summer Slide, we can regain the weeks of teaching time spent remediating each fall. As I tell my sixth grade students every fall, “I know you learned these things last year. We just have to dig deep down where they are buried under countless episodes of Spongebob Squarepants, endless hours of video games, and pounds of sores, and drag the math, language, and collaboration skills back to the surface. You know this!”
6th Grade Teacher, Centennial Elementary School