Article originally written by Jen Lilienstein and published on LessonPlanet.

As we round the bend into summer, visions of holiday fun occupy the daydreams of pupils, parents, and teachers. While summer can be a great time for your students to explore self-directed learning in areas they are passionate about, don’t let them walk out the door on the last day of school without letting their families know about a phenomenon known as summer slide.

Startling Statistics Related to Summer Slide

  • Most kids lose about two months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills over the summer months (Cooper, 1996).
  • Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Heyns, 1978; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al, 2004).
  • Unequal access to summer learning opportunities during elementary school is one of the primary reasons for two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap (Alexander, Entwisle & Olson, 2007a).
  • By engaging family members, and getting them more involved with their kids’ learning over the summer, your students can buck the summer slide, and return to school academically sharp and strong.

Step One

Let parents in on some of the statistics above, then highlight what their child will be expected to know when they return to school in the fall. Thanks to the Common Core State Standards, this is easy for most teachers based in the United States. Just e-mail or make copies of the pages in the appropriate PDFs on commoncore.org. The sections you will want to emphasize are tagged as “what x-grade students should know” in each section.

The Shifts for Students and Parents presentation is also a great reference for educating parents as to what their kids are learning and how they can help keep them sharp this summer.

Step Two

Remind parents that, as Dr. Judy Willis says, “practice makes permanent.” In order for pupils to retain the information that they worked so hard to learn during the school year, they need to practice the concepts over the summer. Tell them this practice is similar to daily exercise; it has to be done to keep one’s body in shape. In this case, they are working their minds to keep their brains in shape. Be sure to remind them, however, that this practice shouldn’t take long – maybe 15-20 minutes per day. The rest of their time can be spent on fun, summer activities.

Step Three

Reinforce to moms and dads that learning, even when it’s just fact practice, can be fun. In many respects, coming up with the activities that blend learning and fun can also be enjoyable for the parents.

  • Task mothers and fathers with keying into what their kids enjoy doing and try to blend learning with those types of pursuits. For instance, got a future party planner on your hands? Task her with figuring out costs and logistics for a summer bash with friends for math practice. Got an outdoorsy kid? Try blending spelling practice with a Frisbee golf match.
  • For reading practice, recommend that moms and dads talk to their local librarians regarding book selection. Librarians can provide lists of books about subjects that interest the kids at just-right reading levels.

Final Ideas for Avoiding the Summer Slide

Be sure to let parents know about valuable online resources, such as LessonPlanet and TeachingBlogAddict.com, that they can use to find literally thousands of fun ways to practice concepts over the summer.

There are nearly 6,000 Language Arts game lesson plans from which to choose on Lesson Planet:

There are more than 8,000 Math game lesson plans from which to choose on Lesson Planet:

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3 Easy Steps to Help Your Students Avoid Summer Slide