A lot of kids look at summer as one long, extended recess. It’s their time of the year to get away from teachers and assignments. It's an opportunity to recharge their batteries, imagine new things and socialize with friends, all of which are important to ongoing development.
For too many students, though, summer is also the season of learning loss – the very real and measurable regression in abilities and knowledge occurring during the two and a half month break from school. Hence the term “summer slide.”
Like anything, math, reading and other academic skills get rusty when not in use, causing teachers to spend weeks reviewing what was lost over the summer at the start of each school year. The problem can be particularly noticeable in low-income children who may have less exposure to summer learning opportunities.
But the summer slide can be overcome, and at United Way’s July Impact Spotlight session, two local experts shared examples of programs available through camps, libraries, museums, parks, and nonprofits that can help.
Kim Fender, director at the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, highlighted the local success of the six-week Summer Camp Reading program for soon-to-be third graders identified as underachieving readers. Through playing games, literacy activities and crafts, campers finished the program reading on target and ready for third grade. The extra help building fluency and comprehension comes at a critical time: third grade is when students shift from learning to read – sounding out words using the sounds of the alphabet – to reading to learn.
Polly Lusk Page, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Education Council, shared how some Covington kids are spending their summers learning in a district-wide summer learning program, Love the Cov.
The five-week program is a great example of how schools are changing their thinking to help students year round says Page. “Traditionally, our school doors are closed during the summer and the learning faucet is off. We have the faucet open all during the school year with teachers and resources, but during the summer the faucet is off.”
Both Fender and Page agree that these programs, and others like them, are part of a growing need to give our children more resources during the summer. “The burden is on us to make a change for our students,” said Page.
Referencing the Bold Goals for Our Region – three of which relate specifically to education – Fender said that the library is aligned with and working toward these goal. She emphasizes that these are community goals that everyone should support.
“We need to make these investments for our children’s future.”