How to Beat the Summer Slide
The golden rays of sunshine beaming in from the classroom windows tease our students with the freedom of summer. The itch for freedom from 8 hour school days cannot simply be quenched with a few hours of outdoor play on the playground and on the weekends. Time seems to move slower at the end of the school year. Then when summer finally begins, the built up excitement can finally be let out in the form of pool parties, midweek zoo visits and lazy mornings making pancakes in pajamas.
But what happens to the knowledge that educators strive so hard to instill within the students of Sand Springs Schools? From 8 hours to 0 hours of learning, how do children retain, use and embellish what they have learned? Sherry Durkee, the Superintendent of Sand Springs Public Schools, identifies this as the summer slide. “The summer slide is a common term referring to the learning loss,” said Durkee, “resulting in the gap of time in the summer when students are not attending school.” As children have left the classroom, the tools they have learned aren’t being sharpened everyday, and as a result can often be lost.
While all students experience a summer slide, elementary students are in “the most critical [years] as students are building a foundational base for their education.” said Durkee. “It is estimated that over that time, if summer learning loss continues over the course of elementary school, students can be as much as 2 years behind their peers by the time they reach 6th grade.” Durkee shared that reading and math fluency are two of the subjects that are critical to build solid foundations during the elementary age – “Including the application of these skills” said Durkee.
Sand Spring teachers put immense effort into preparing students for summer, as to reduce the summer slide. “Often teachers make suggestions about easy activities parents could provide during the summer months to curb the effects,” said Durkee. As parents there are a few ways to curve the students of Sand Springs to love learning, even during the summer months where life gets crazy busy! Durkee shared 3 things that are easy to incorporate into the everyday family life:
The first thing, maybe most important, is to read. Even 10 to 20 minutes a day reinforces this skill tremendously. Read everything – road signs, recipes, instructions, labels, signs in the grocery store, etc. Trips to the library for new books can spark an interest in reading but also other areas a student wants to know more about.
Secondly, encourage writing. This could be notes to grandma, a simple list, labeling items in the house, using sidewalk chalk to write messages, etc. The more creative you can make it, the better. Using different mediums is effective to make it fun. Incorporate markers, paint, water, sand, or most anything that would allow for students to express themselves in the written format.
Third, look for ways to apply math. Using fractions when cooking with a recipe is a great way to retain that skill and apply it to a real life application. Children can see that 1/3 is bigger than 1/4 and they use these tools to help cook! Counting how many plates and forks would be needed on the 4th of July for a family to get together. Even dividing snacks for a break from a favorite activity, of course making sure all friends get the same amount can be fun (and important for kids who are all about fairness)!
Durkee also shared some of the programs that the Sand Springs school district has for students and families to get additional support through. At the beginning of the summer, in June, Project Summer Spirit at Garfield STEAM Academy kicked off activities that helped kids reinforce skills that were taught in previous years. These activities are taught by certified teachers and paraprofessionals and provide rich educational experiences that are fun for kids to be involved in! “We also are in the middle of our Summer Reading Academy for students,” said Durkee, “who may need additional support in the summer. Our new program, Sandite Summer Camp, will be held for 3 continuous weeks in July targeting academic skill reinforcement, as well as, enrichment activities like field trips to encourage social emotional learning and soft skills students need for success.”
Summer is roughly 75 days of pure bliss to a child, and honestly, it’s fun for parents too! While loving children means making sure they are learning and staying up to speed with their education, Durkee reminds us that, “the big message here is MAKE IT FUN! It’s not necessary to worry about not doing something exactly right, just engage your child.” There are opportunities all around Sand Springs to get involved and keep your kids, baby to teen, learning and having fun! A simple Google search will yield a “plethora of camps and summer activities that are put on by different organizations,” said Durkee.
Read more articles about Sand Springs Wellness here.