Stopping the summer slide

It’s called the summer slide.

“It’s a natural phenomena that happens when kids stop exercising their brains and spend the first month of school recovering what they learned the year before.” Mathnasium of Stillwater Center Director, Sachin Gore said.

“There’s lots of research out there on the summer slide and some say students lose more than just three months,” ISD 834’s Executive Director of Elementary Education, Mary Anderson said. “We need to encourage parents to do a lot more learning exercises with their kids during the summer because it seems that those students who do get some help don’t slide.”

As the school year begins to draw to a close some parents may wonder how they can keep their kids learning and occupied through the summer.

“It’s really important for kids to keep reading and do math,” Anderson said “It helps with problem-solving and critical thinking, skills that students need when they do get back to school.”

Though some parents may say that summer is a time for their kids to have fun and not worry about learning Gore says for him, as a dad and tutoring center owner, it’s the exact opposite.

“I have a lot of people who have their spouse say they don’t want their kids to be doing anything learning-related during the summer because that’s when they’re meant to have fun,” Gore said. “But what I say to that is that it’s a  great opportunity to not struggle and take away the pressure they have during the school year. In the summer there’s not as much sports and school. When I see the kids I have at my business now, they’ve been learning for six or seven hours already, have gone to practice and have just gotten around to doing their homework. Their brain is at a different level of capacity.”

To help students continue learning throughout the summer both Anderson and Gore have some suggestions for parents.

“Use the community resources and see what the schools offer,” Anderson said. “Community ed classes in Stillwater have some academic-focused classes that could help students.”

She also mentioned Adventure Club, a childcare service offered by the school district that keeps learning going throughout the summer, but in a fun way, like building ovens and baking things in them, among other things.

“Part of it is planning activities for kids,” Gore said. “A lot of parents work so they end up sending their kids to a camp anyway. It doesn’t have to be a hard-core learning environment but you can learn with formal and informal things.”

In addition to saying his company offers some summer-long enrichment opportunities he added that he knew of a few other camps: Junior Achievement Camp, Camp Invention, and others at the Minnesota Science Museum, the Minnesota Zoo and Como Zoo.

Gore also thinks he may try something that his son does at his Montessori School.

“It’s called going out,” Gore said. “Teachers have students plan a day in relation to a project. For me it would be just a day-trip. I’ll have him pick out where he wants to go, figure out the times, and create a budget. This helps them practice with time and with money. And this way you know they won’t be bored when they get there because they chose it.”

For parents who want to know what they can do in their homes Anderson and Gore Suggested a few other options:

  • Going to the library to keep books at hand at all times.
  • Going to the grocery store and having kids add up the total as you go around.
  • Reading together.
  • Grocery shopping with a certain amount of money and asking the child to see how much they can purchase.
  • Art projects.
  • Cooking to practice fractions

“The key is to make it fun so they’re learning but they don’t know it,” Gore said.