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It’s Not Too Early to Prepare: Top 5 Ways to Beat the Summer Slide

by Therese Pickett on Apr 11, 2019

  • Math Intervention
  • Reading Intervention
  • summer
Therese Pickett

Learn More About TimeWarp Plus  Learn More About Vmath Summer Adventure

Experiencing the extreme polar vortex this winter made me long for summer vacation much earlier than usual. Unfortunately, though, summer vacation also means summer learning slide for many students. When I was in the classroom, I dreaded the inevitable weeks of review each fall due to students forgetting what had been taught the previous year. Despite summer break still being a few months away, this is the best time to begin planning ways to prevent or lessen learning loss.

Research has shown a pattern of summer learning loss, particularly among low-income youths. Lack of access to high-quality summer learning programs negatively impacts the academic achievement, health, and social development of children, particularly in high-poverty communities. Students in middle- and higher-income households still lose an average of one to two months of learning each summer. So, what can educators do to lessen or eliminate summer slide?

  1. Partner with parents and caregivers. To have success at alleviating summer learning loss, school leaders must get families involved. Host a kick-off at a summer open house to demonstrate activities and resources. Include hands-on practice with activities and resources so caregivers and students are familiar with them. Encourage adults in the home to be good role models by reading in front of and with children and pointing out and practicing math in real-life situations. If possible, host a summer read-in or family night with fun, engaging activities from the core academic areas. Let parents know about opportunities in the community.

  2. Collaborate with local businesses and community agencies. Public libraries are wonderful places for families to visit and many offer summer reading programs and free or low-cost activities to keep students’ minds sharp. However, there could be a host of other opportunities available with public agencies and private businesses caregivers may not know about. Does the parks and recreation department offer field trips, day camps, or academic programs? Are there any local businesses or athletic teams that would like to sponsor and/or host field trips, learning opportunities, or incentives for summer learning? Does your district or community offer free breakfasts or lunches for students? If so, host activities at the pick-up locations to reach more families who might not otherwise be able to afford paid programs. Are there community centers where you could join forces?

  3. Provide resources or lists of free resources for families. Whether it is sending home physical books, practice sheets, or logins and reminders for digital subscriptions, providing access to materials is key for many students, especially those in lower-income households. Offer simple recipes where students can read directions and practice measuring skills. There also are many free digital resources available for students that can be accessed on a home or public library computer or even a smart phone. Family members may not be aware of these or where to begin to look for them. Sending home a list would help. Assisting parents in setting these up before school concludes for break can help even more.

  4. Create opportunities for communication during the summer. In this age, there are myriad ways to connect with parents, caregivers, and students. Some teachers have texts or electronic reminders to encourage reading and math practice at home. Newsletters, blogs, social media posts, and apps are other avenues that are part of many people’s daily lives. Some teachers set goals for a number of weekly minutes reading or practicing math during the summer and send reminders asking, “How close are you to your goal?” Then, you can celebrate when students hit their goals. Find a local radio or TV station willing to broadcast reminders and celebrations.

  5. Offer an engaging, evidence-based summer school program. A key to successful summer school is providing instruction based in research and best practices to maintain skills, enrich learning, or even remediate when students have learning gaps. Programs should include fun activities for students and opportunities for parents and caregivers to participate in or attend a celebration. TimeWarp® Plus and Vmath® Summer Adventure are some examples.

Regardless of resources, educators can and should find ways to help students maintain the skills learned at school. The possibilities are limitless. It just takes some imagination and planning and NOW is the time to begin.


Therese Pickett has served as an implementation specialist for Voyager Sopris Learning® for the past 13 years. During this time, she has enjoyed training, supporting, and collaborating with districts across the country to help students achieve their full academic potential. Before joining Voyager Sopris Learning, Therese taught junior and senior high school ELA and history in general education and special education classrooms. She lives in the Blue Water area of southeast Michigan with her husband and two children.

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