How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide

Tips on how to avoid the Summer Learning Slide. I participated in a webinar recently that discussed helpful tips to prevent the academic summer learning. Experts weighed in and provided their suggestions to make the summers a fun learning experience that will keep children well-prepared for the fall school season. The How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide webinar was hosted by Anya Kamenetz, Author and Lead Education Blogger at NPR and the speakers included Matthew Boulay, Author and Founder of the National Summer Learning Association; Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director at the Association of Children’s Museums; and Elizabeth McChesney, Director of Children’s Services at Chicago Public Library.

Here is input from each of the speakers…

How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide – Matthew Boulay

Matthew Boulay, Author and Founder of the National Summer Learning Association
The summer learning slide is an epidemic. We need to promote awareness around the summer learning loss, and promote the effectiveness with formal and informal learning programs. This hits our kids in the biggest way year after year. This is when it becomes a problem because it’s year after year. It affects children in poverty and more affluent situations. It’s widespread, but there’s a lot we can do now that we know so much more. Parents need to work with teachers. They should partner with them for their children’s learning. In May/June, the teachers and parents should put together any needed learning for the kids for the summer. Sometimes kids are falling behind and they need to practice skills, and this is the time to address them for the summer months so they don’t get far behind. Doing it in a fun way can be most effective…online programs, children’s groups, STEM programs, reading… Many of us read to our kids at night, but we should also try practicing math in fun ways with them using platforms like BedTimeMath.org.

Overall, parents should ask teachers “what do I need to review with my child this summer, and how can I help them prepare for next year?” When teachers send a message saying kids are doing fine, we’ll see you in September, then they relax and do nothing. If teachers communicate expectations, it’s really important and well-received. Parents will do more with this type of interaction.

Summer learning is not summer school. We’ve evolved a great deal in our thinking. The institutions in our community have an important role to play. Schools can keep libraries open for the summer. Children’s museums have a role. Summer is a way to customize your kid’s education. There are so many constraints on learning in a school year. Summer is wide open. Parents can explore all different ways. Organizations can offer different opportunities to fulfill these interests.

Here are some good resources for summer learning: howtosmile.org is great for younger kids. KAHN academy has great tutorials for older kids. Kids can earn points and badges. SummerLearning.org has some sheets for Spanish. There’s a great deal that can be found online.

How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide – Laura Huerta Migus

Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director at the Association of Children’s Museums
Informal learning is a big part of summer learning. 80-90% of our time is spent outside of the classroom. This is the time for learning. Children’s museum are great sites for learning opportunities. They can be self-directed, so no teacher or director is needed. We get to choose what we’re interested in pursuing. It’s flexible and open-ended. Informal learning is about the experience and the process rather than a measurement like testing during the school year. It’s about understanding and building self-esteem. Classroom environments are social learning environments, but informal learning environments have different social environments…e.g. with a church group, with family, etc. These learning experiences are critical during the summer months. Providing support to the academic content is helpful, but summer is a great time to engage in learning environments that are child centered, self-esteem building, and low stakes (no testing, etc.). When visiting a museum, stop at the visitor counter and ask about flash cards that help parents to prompt children while they explore the pieces through the museum. They are typically age appropriate questions with different questions for different age levels. This is a good teaching role for parents. And, with any kind of visit, ask your kids afterwards “what was your favorite thing? What was boring? What does it make you think about?” These are great ways to learn what your child is learning about. This can help guide what’s next, e.g. find an interest and explore it more with books, TV shows, etc. We hear a lot about limiting screen time, but screen time can be a powerful learning tool if we’re engaged with it. Some museums even have learning opportunities on their website. You can even give it a math focus, e.g. ask “How are we going to plan our time at this next outing? This is much we have to spend, what should we do?” Also, howtosmile.org has a collection of the best educational materials on the web, in addition to learning tools and services – all designed especially for those who teach school-aged kids in non-classroom settings. Plus, just about every children’s museum has some portfolio of summer programming. Many museums offer discounted or free admissions for those with an EBT card.

How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide – Elizabeth McChesney

Elizabeth McChesney, Director of Children’s Services at Chicago Public Library
A lot of informal learning can happen at the library. Summer reading programs are great for kids. Social and emotional learning is done by reading. Libraries help support the cause by donating books, providing reading lists, and promoting kids to have the choice to read what they want. Some libraries also offer STEM classes and other great programs offered during the summer for skills other than reading. There are true successes for those kids that participate in some type of summer learning.

There have been studies conducted that showed that the children doing summer learning were far better prepared the upcoming school year.

More How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide Resources

www.howtosmile.org
www.museums4all.org
PBS Kids
Khan Academy
Summer Bridge Books
Summerlearning.org
theconnectory.org

See related posts below for more back to school tips for kids and more How to Avoid the Summer Learning Slide tips and info.