Have you heard of the Summer Slide? This is a concept that it is new to me, but is apparently a decline in reading ability and other academic skills that can occur over the summer holidays. I guess its that feeling that I remember as a child of not knowing how to write when we went back to school. So how can you prevent the summer slide? Read on to get some ideas…
Honestly I am not sure I am convinced that the summer slide is really an issue. I never did any formal learning in the holidays and I did just fine… However, with one of my little ones struggling with reading and so much work having been put it this year to help and support him I want to continue this with him. I think since he has been struggling we need to continue focusing on developing skill over the summer holidays, but, of course not at the expense of having fun.
To get some tips I spoke with Charlotte Gater, Head of Curriculum at Explore Learning (www.explorelearning.co.uk) Here are her suggestions for the summer and beyond…
How parents can help their children with their reading skills
- Find the right books, encouraging children to read for pleasure will engaging them more. Head to the local library or bookshop to find a variety of books.
- Ask questions about what they are reading to see if they understand the content. Model what you do when you’re reading and you don’t understand something e.g. look at the pictures for clues; read the whole sentence or passage to pick up clues or look up the meaning of a word.
- Ask them to predict what will happen next and why they think that.
- Let them make mistakes, don’t jump on every word they make an error with. Let them read the sentence and then see if they go back and self-correct a word. If not then ask if what they’ve read makes sense.
- Encourage your child to use expression when they read. Do they know what the punctuation means and what impact it has on how to read the passage? If they are learning and they can’t take the meaning in on the first attempt, encourage them to read it through once and then select one section or sentence to read with expression.
- Take it in turns to read a page each. Model how you read aloud whilst encouraging them to follow the text.
How can parents help to prepare a child for next year?
- Look at what is coming up for your child in the next academic year, this way you can identify anything you think will be challenging. You can then use the school holidays to start to tackle it. For example, is telling the time coming up? Get them a watch and use it together, ‘we’re going to the park in 15 mins what time will that be?’
To find the information about what is covered when then look at your school website or the relevant UK curriculum websites. School websites contain a wealth of information about the curriculum and on gov.uk you can find the relevant Programme of Study for each year group in England. ( Scotland, Wales , NI )
- Review your child’s report with them. Reflect together on where they have done well so they know what to continue to do next year. If there are areas to work on then make a plan together about how these can be improved. Can you start to work on these before Sept e.g. if concentration is highlighted as an area to improve; over the holiday you could use a timer to help build up the amount of time your child can focus on something. This could be anything from reading to a sibling, to helping tidy up the garden. It doesn’t have to be based on school work.
What we will be doing over the summer to prevent the summer slide
As I said at the beginning of this post I don’t think that the summer slide is something that any of us need to get our knickers in a twist about. I mean kids do just need to be able to play, but my son does find reading so hard and he has worked and worked at it so I don’t want him to go backwards. We will be incorporating some learning into our summer as well as the days of messing around at the pool and beach. The things we will be doing are:
- Going to museums and talking about the world
- Using online learning tools such as Nessy and Komodo. My boys do 15 mins on these everyday during term time (one does Nessy and the other Komodo) and over the summer we are going to do it every other day. If we stop all together then I think it will be hard to get back into it. Doing this learning just feels like fun to the kids and more screen time which they are always down for!!
- Practising things like telling the time and using money to practise maths skills
- Writing a holiday journal. We did this last year and they enjoyed doing it, it kept them writing and was very sweet to read. I also found this to be a great thing to do when it was really hot and the kids needed to get out of the sun for a bit.
Now don’t get me wrong the summer won’t be about learning! It will be about having fun as a family. The summer will also no doubt be about the kids saying ‘i’m bored’ or ‘Can I go on the Xbox? I feel like kids have too much pressure on them so I’m certainly not going to be fighting with them over this. For me it is important for my son to keep reading as much as possible. So I will be encouraging that as much as possible. We have made a pact to read a Horrid Henry book together over the summer. Fingers crossed he will maintain all the progress he has worked so hard to make.
What do you think about the idea of a summer slide? Do you think it is nonsense or something to think about?