Schools out for summer! But come September, Teachers across the country will be completing their initial baseline assessment for their new class, detailing the children’s level of understanding, comparing it to the last teachers report just a short couple of months ago and finding they don’t quite match up. This is what’s known as the summer grade slide. Studies show that children lose up to two months of acquired skills over the long summer holidays. So, academically the summer creates a loss of learning, but in other areas what can children gain from a summer of idleness?
How To Prevent the Summer Grade Slide
- Independence-summer usually sees parents loosen the reins a little, children can play outside with their friends and don’t need to follow such a strict schedule as during term time. This independence fosters autonomy and allows children to mature naturally, gaining confidence in their own abilities.
- Nonacademic skills-running, jumping, being brave, tying a knot, learning to canoe, camping outside under the stars- there are so many skills children can learn that are not traditionally academic. A rounded balanced education requires more than just reading, writing and arithmetic. For those children that don’t particularly excel in traditional subjects, the chance to achieve in another area is momentous.
- Freedom-a lack of restraints creates an opportunity for creativity to flourish.
We need to move away from the concept that children are empty vessels to be filled with knowledge, education isn’t always linear, it’s a spectrum of experience, practice, application, exploration, feedback and evaluation.
Tips To Prevent the Summer Grade Slide
However, there are some simple tips you can follow to limit the fallout associated with summer learning loss.
- 1. Ensure your child reads every day. If your child isn’t interested in grade level books, don’t be a snob, let them read comics, graphic novels or even age appreciate magazines- reading is reading, and it’s essential!
- 2. Incorporate learning into everyday activities- ask younger children to count out cutlery needed on the table or the cost of several groceries. Older children could be involved in trip budgets; what do you need to save in order to do all the activities they wish to do?
- 3. Have a summer project based on your child’s interest- perhaps find out about a specific dinosaur/research their favourite pop band/create an art project or develop an idea for a new app- the sky’s the limit!
- 4. Insist that if your child watches TV that they learn to view media critically-question images shown and assumptions made, especially by advertisers- start a conversation about gender roles and stereotypes or ideas of beauty perpetuated by the media- discourage passive viewing.
- 5. Work on emotional literacy- having your child name and explain their feelings and begin to recognise others feelings, will be essential skills all school year long.
- 6. For rainy days take the learning up a notch: visit a museum, watch a documentary or visit the library.
Above all, have fun, these summer days are short and come September, you may wish you had enjoyed them more, so get out and play with your kids, just try to slip a little learning in when you can to avoid the summer slide!