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Summer Learning Loss, and What You Can Do To Prevent It

Summer Learning Loss, and What You Can Do To Prevent It

Summer learning loss, what is it?

School is out and the sun is shining! While summer is filled with lots of fun, time away from school can have a negative impact on students. Summer learning loss occurs when students don’t reinforce what they have learned throughout the school year, leading to a loss in knowledge and the need for teachers to spend the first weeks of school re-teaching skills that students learned the previous year. While there are many factors that come into play, some students lose over 2 months of math and reading knowledge during the summer. Fret not! Despite this, there are ways that parents can help keep their kids engaged in learning all summer long. Here is our guide to free (or nearly free) ideas and resources to help keep your little learners, elementary schoolers, and teenagers engaged in learning all summer long.

Our favorite ideas and resources to combat summer learning loss:

 

greatschools.org- Summer Learning Loss BlogGreatschools.org

Looking for pre-K resources for your little learner? Greatschools.org offers free printable worksheets for students in pre-K all the way to 5th grade. They also offer resources for students and families from the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Visit this site for a wealth of resources, tests, worksheets and articles.

 

 

Khan Academy Homepage- Summer Learning Loss BlogKhan Academy

One of the hardest subjects to keep up with during the summer can be math. Reading a book can be a treat at bedtime, but keeping up with fractions can be a bit trickier. The Khan Academy is a stellar resource. Their wealth of subject matter ranges from the basics to calculus, with everything in between. They also have coding resources for your the programmer-to-be in your family, as well as a variety of science and engineering resources. Is your teen getting ready to take those college entrance exams? The Khan Academy also offers test prep resources. Oh, and not to mention you can brush up on your macroeconomics and AP US history as well. This overall STEAM knowledge base should not be overlooked.

Postcard- Summer Learning Loss BlogWrite a Postcard

Travelling making it hard to budget studying time for your kids? On your travels have your kids pick out postcards that they would like to send to their friends and family and have them write their own letters. This is a great way to combat summer learning loss by practicing grammar, spelling, and punctuation on the go. It’s also a fun surprise for the recipients. Bring your child into the process by having them pick out the postcards they would like to send, then they will feel more connected and personally invested in the writing process. It’s a win-win for you and them!

Children's Books- Summer Learning LossGrab a book

Just about any will do! Head over to your nearest library, or maybe there is a homemade ‘little library‘ sitting on a corner in your neighborhood. Reading is one of the main subjects that summer learning loss is affected by. There are many reading lists out there:

Try this reading list from the Seattle Public Library for ages 3-5.

Or try this summer reading list from the Spokane Public Library (there is even one for adults too!).

Is your teen college bound? Here are NPR’s summer reading list suggestions.

No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars- Summer Learning Loss BlogCook with your kids

Speaking of fractions, what better way to get some hands on learning than to cook a meal with the kids. Cooking combines math and chemistry to create something special, and getting the kids involved can be a fun learning opportunity. Cooking can also give kids knowledge about healthy nutrition, and reading a recipe can help them work on their reading comprehension skills. PBS Parents offers some tips for getting your kids to join you in the kitchen, as well as recipes that kids are sure to love. We recommend checking out these No Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Squares. Yum!

While you’re at it, why don’t you see if it’s possible to cook a s’more without fire or electricity?

duolingo homepage - summer learning lossDuolingo

Parlez-vous Français? Need to brush up on your German verb conjugations? Summer learning loss can affect students trying to learn a language if they don’t receive consistent practice. Duolingo is a comprehensive, free resource to help your student stay sharp in a variety of languages. They offer lessons in over 20 different languages, including Irish, Norwegian, and Swahili just to name a few. They have iOS and Android apps, so your kids can practice on the go. For the teachers out there, they also have classroom resources too.

 

HTML CodingCode Academy

Is your student interested in learning how to build websites, web applications, or ready to dive into more complex topics like database management? Code Academy is a great resource to learn responsive web design, HTML and CSS, or even Ruby on Rails. This free resource can help keep your kids and teens engaged in coding all summer long. All languages take consistent practice, including coding languages, and resources like Code Academy or the aforementioned Khan Academy can help prevent summer learning loss for students studying coding and computer programming.

Now get out there and learn!

There are opportunities for educational moments every day, and the internet is full of ideas a resources to help you along the way. Get the whole family involved in these fun math activities, enjoy a free children’s ebook, or make your own postcards to send to love ones. Fostering a spirit of discovery in your child’s life will help them continue to learn, grow, and be better students. Summer learning loss be banished! If you have any other ideas, or if you try out any of our suggestions, please tell us about it in the comments below. Happy summer!

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Sources:

Schools, Achievement, and Inequality: A Seasonal Perspective

Posted in: Blog, STEM

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Page Ahead on Stopping Summer Slide

Page Ahead on Stopping Summer Slide blog photoBy Nick Nogrady, Program Director, Page Ahead Children’s Literacy Program, guest blogger

Each summer, during the annual hiatus from school, many students lose their reading skills. This phenomenon is sometimes called “summer slide” or “summer reading setback.” It impacts children living in poverty the most, and its effects are cumulative.  It is estimated that up to two-thirds of the reading achievement gap experienced by low-income children happens during the summer months.

This is where Page Ahead comes in. Founded in Seattle more than 25 years ago, Page Ahead has become the largest children’s literacy organization in Washington state.  We combat summer slide by giving students access to their choice of books as well as holding free book fairs for students in kindergarten through second grade at the end of each school year. The Page Ahead’s book fair program goes by the name of Book Up Summer (BUS).

Based on research by Dr. Richard Allington, ensuring easy and continuing access to free self-selected books to read over the summer is a useful strategy for addressing the summer reading setback and addressing the reading achievement gap. This book fair allows low-income students to self-select 12 free books to read over the summer for three consecutive years.  At the conclusion of three years Dr. Allington followed, study results indicated students gained approximately 40% of a grade level in reading.[1] These results are similar to children attending summer school during those three years, at just a fraction of the cost.

At Page Ahead, we target elementary schools with a high percentage of low-income students, and low third grade reading test scores. By targeting these schools, we reach students with little or no access to books in the home, and families unlikely or unable to visit the library in the summer months.  More than 80% of students we serve are low-income, and 40% are bilingual.

Book Up Summer works. In Seattle schools that have completed the three year intervention, the gap between low-income schools we serve and the citywide points average for the 1st and 2nd grade reading assessments has been closed by 70%.

Personally, this is a great program to run. I enjoy travelling across the state to meet with educators passionate about closing the opportunity gap. I meet teachers and administrators from farming communities in central Washington, mountain towns in the Cascades, from Seattle to Tacoma to Spokane—these educators know how much these books will mean to their students and families, as well as their communities.

The day of the fair is also very special. The kids can’t believe they get 12 books to keep forever. Just like adults, there are impulse buyers and discerning shoppers.  After they pick, each student gets a nameplate to put in each of their books; every book is new and truly their own.

This summer we served nearly 10,000 students at more than 60 schools across all of Washington state.  Next year we plan to expand the program to nearly 14,000 students. While the program is very cost effective with a budget of less than $50 per student, an expansion of this level will require a dramatic increase in the organization’s budget.  Page Ahead will be seeking new corporate and foundation partners, as well as developing resources in local communities where the program is offered.

If Washington state is looking for an effective and efficient way to improve the reading skills, and reduce the reading achievement gap for low-income students, Book Up Summer offers a promising model of reading intervention.

To learn more, get involved, or make a donation, visit Page Ahead’s website: www.pageahead.org

 

[1] Allington, Richard L., Anne Mcgill-Franzen, Gregory Camilli, Lunetta Williams, Jennifer Graff, Jacqueline Zeig, Courtney Zmach, and Rhonda Nowak. “Addressing Summer Reading Setback Among Economically Disadvantaged Elementary Students.” Reading Psychology 31.5 (2010): 411-27. Web.

 

Posted in: Blog, Closing the Gaps

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Summer learning loss: Why we must support students year-round

As an avid runner, rower, and soccer player currently recovering from my third knee surgery, I am keenly aware of the process of atrophy, and feel it happening more and more to my body with each passing day that I am unable to exercise as intensely as I would like. The body needs to be worked out regularly and often to maintain aerobic fitness, physical strength and maximum health. I know that my return to running in July following a more than 3 month layoff will be a painful reminder of what has been lost during that time.

The mind is no different than the body, and so it is that summer learning loss is an absolute reality in the cycle we have set up within our educational framework in this country. As sociologist Karl Alexander from Johns Hopkins University has shown so clearly in his data (p. 255-258 in Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers), our calendar system based on the rhythms of the agricultural season no longer makes sense when trying to strive for strong educational outcomes for the wide range of students now in our public schools. While a few fortunate young people may have their minds challenged and nurtured all summer with family trips overseas (who wouldn’t want to see Versailles up close and personally after studying it in a World History class?) and other extended enrichment opportunities at home and abroad, for low income and other underserved students, the reality is that they return from school breaks and summer holidays with lower achievement scores than before (in one particular Hopkins study, while wealthier students make consistent 15 point gains in reading over the course of summer vacation, low income students drop by 4 points). Teachers thus begin a new year often scrambling to get students back up to the place where they left off before even considering the possibilities of advancement, and the only fault of the students was lacking the resources to keep the learning process going all summer long on one’s own. Access to resources is a very different issue than motivation to learn or inherent ability to achieve.

At Rainier Scholars, we are committed to using the summer months for intensive enrichment and cultivation of the mind for our low income students of color, setting a goal that scholars will emerge after two summer sessions in our academic program (plus an extra school year of twice weekly classes) working 1-2 grades above grade level, not having fallen behind their peers who are already in enrichment settings but actually having kept pace and in some cases accelerated right on by. We witness daily the profound impact of a regular diet of mental and intellectual challenge, and though the popular myth is that students only want the summer to “chill out and relax,” we see near-instant results in the self-esteem and confidence students take into their next educational setting.

Just as running, lifting weights and riding a bike keep one’s body sharp and ready for performance, so too does reading classic texts such as Romeo and Juliet and analyzing whether one should marry for love or money, solving equations and mastering Algebra, conducting DNA lab experiments and debating critical human rights issues around the globe keep one’s mind sharp and ready for excellence. Yes, our minds and bodies all need a day or two of rest every now and again to recharge and refresh, but we all know how much atrophy occurs after 3 months; why would the mind be any different?

Sarah Smith is Executive Director of Rainier Scholars and a member of the Our Schools Coalition.

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