The Summer Slide sounds like a fun piece of playground equipment but it’s something to be prevented: “Students in lower-income families who don't read over the summer lose two to three months of learning, according to the National Summer Learning Association, a Baltimore group with ties to Johns Hopkins University” (Wisconsin State Journal). To learn more about the Summer Slide, try a search for “summer slide” or “summer learning loss” in ISearch (use your school or district's INFOhio username and password if prompted).
According to Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Research Services, "Summer vacation is one of the predominant causes of the achievement gap in America's schools. While middle- and higher-income children spend their summers engaged in activities and enrolled in programs that strengthen and reinforce learning, the vast majority of children in low-income communities have little or no access to such opportunities. By the time school begins each year, low-income children's lack of access to enriching summer activities results in their falling weeks, if not months, behind their more advantaged peers."
When students come back from summer vacation unprepared to learn new skills, the first several weeks of the new school year are spent catching up and relearning old material. What can teachers do to stop the Summer Slide and help students come back to school ready to learn in the fall? Pay it forward! Do your colleagues in the next grade up a favor and send your current students home with strategies to keep learning all summer and prevent the Summer Slide.
Send home resources for parents and students
Ohio's PreK-12 children can access INFOhio's learning resources all year long, including during the summer months. When you and your students are at school, you probably don't need to log into the INFOhio website. If a child is at home, at daycare, at the public library, or on a mobile device at the beach, she might need to know the INFOhio username and password. Send your school's INFOhio username and password home for use over the summer. Don't know your school's INFOhio username and password? Looking that up is easy! Visit https://www.infohio.org/students/er/find-my-password. Fill out the form and look for the username and password on the result screen. Encourage parents to do the same. Consider printing the username and password, along with directions on how to find it, on INFOhio bookmarks that you can send home with students.
INFOhio provides free, downloadable "Beach Bags" full of learning activities for children. Beach Bags make it easy for students to access eBooks, printable little books, and fun learning activities from INFOhio. They also include lists of related books for children to check out from their public library. Print the Beach Bags and Camp INFOhio and send them home with students. Send a note to caregivers to let them know where they can access the Beach Bags and Camp INFOhio on the INFOhio website.
Invite a librarian from your public library to your class
Most of Ohio's public libraries have a Summer Reading Program for children, teens, and adults. This year, many Ohio public libraries will be using the theme "Libraries Rock!"
Invite a librarian from a nearby public library to your class to talk to your students about their Summer Reading Program. Not sure where your closest public library is? Visit OPLIN’s Find a Library page to find a public library in your area. Encourage your school library staff to be involved with the visit. Help your students get their own public library cards that they can use when visiting the library with a parent or with the babysitter. The librarian may be able to help you create a permission slip that parents can sign to allow children to get their own library cards. Then encourage parents to get children involved in a Summer Reading Program.
Connect families to information about the Summer Food Program so no Ohio child goes hungry
Food insecurity and hunger have a negative impact on cognitive development, academic achievement, and a child’s ability to learn. For more information on the relationship between food insecurity and learning, try a search for hunger AND children AND learning in ISearch. For children who have been relying on the school for breakfast and lunch, the summer months can be filled with anxiety.
As part of Ohio's Summer Food Program, many public libraries, schools, or community centers offer free meals to children throughout the summer months. Find the Summer Food Program nearest you using this map from the Ohio Department of Education: https://oh.cnpcares.com/summer/SfspFoodServByCnty.asp. Send the location and contact information of the nearest Summer Food Program location home in a letter to parents.
Pass it on
With a single letter home to parents, providing the INFOhio username and password, the link to INFOhio's summer learning activities, information on your public library's summer reading program, and the location of the nearest Summer Food Program site, you'll be ensuring that all Ohio students have a healthy, fun, and productive summer!
Once you’ve finished preparing the resources you plan to send home to prevent the Summer Slide, share them with a colleague who teaches a grade below you and a grade ahead of you. Encourage them to do the same. Together, you can help your students come back to school next fall, ready to hit the ground running!