The “Summer Slide” is when a student forgets all (or nearly all) the information they take in over the course of the school year. Since the concepts of the following year build upon those established during the previous one, summer learning loss can make academic advancement harder. Studies have shown that math skills are usually the first to go. This leads some students to fall further and further behind in math each this year. You, your child, and their teacher will doubtlessly be frustrated by the summer slide’s impact – should it occur in the first place.
Why Does This Happen?
You might be familiar with the old adage, “use it or lose it”. This refers to the brain’s tendency to relinquish information it does not frequently retrieve. At one time, this phenomenon may have been purely anecdotal, but research has since established that this is a concrete fact. The neurons in our brain that are frequently activated are kept alive, while those that receive less attention die off.
Knowing this, it is not hard to see why the summer slide happens. After 2 or 3 months of nothing but television and staying up late, most of the neurons that spawned from studies have gone the way of the dinosaur. School is the last thing on a kid’s mind – they are only thinking about fun things. While it’s necessary for kids to enjoy their youth, this should not come at the expense of their studies.
Even a brief review here and there is better than nothing at all. As long as the information is recalled and kept fresh, the summer learning loss should not be shocking. After several weeks of zoning out, though, a good amount of progress can be flushed down the drain. Of course, these neurons can be built again – rather quickly, compared to the amount of time it takes them to form from scratch. Nonetheless, there is a time cost associated with rebuilding neurons, and everyone would like to avoid it.
Combating the Summer Slide and Summer Learning Loss
Of course, continuing education during the summer months can reduce the slide’s effects. To be honest, though, not everyone can be counted on to take the steps necessary to ensure that. As a result, most teachers have to incorporate a review into their curriculum, stagnating the learning progress of their class until it is completed.
If every parent made sure their child kept academically active during summer months, these review periods would not be necessary. That would free up an enormous amount of time to be used for learning new things. This increased efficiency leads to less stress, more progress, and better overall use of tax dollars.
In reality, this short review period is not reliable. Expecting to cram a year’s worth of knowledge within a few days or weeks is totally asinine. While that period might somewhat attenuate the summer slide’s damage, the children that keep learning will have a clear advantage.
There is no child on earth that wants to spend their summer vacation studying. How, then, can we make learning fun? There are plenty of ways. Every child enjoys playing games, so math-based gaming is a great way to reach the new generation. With all the time they spend on iPads, computers, and game systems, they would love nothing more than to keep playing video games as they study.
Another tip is to make the study time group-based. One of the worst things about studying is being secluded from friends and, consequently, fun. When familiar faces are around, studying suddenly isn’t so bad, especially if the study method is fun. Consider talking to other parents. You could arrange time for the kids to get together and study math in an engaging way.
Climb Up, Don’t Slide Down
The summer slide is something to be avoided at all costs. While a fun-filled summer devoid of all things school-related might seem great to your child, they will suffer in the long run. They will have to study harder for those first few tests, re-learn things they should already know, and risk falling behind. No parent wants their child to struggle. Incorporating reading and math into your daily summer schedule is a start.
This doesn’t have to be difficult. A learning program can help your child stay on track while they are outside the classroom. Computers can be found and accessed almost anywhere. Mobile devices allow you to take learning on-the-go. Since they are probably already spending a lot of time with one or both of these things, there is no better way to make studying both entertaining and convenient for your young student. ArgoPrep’s K-8 interactive math program is a great place to start.
Don’t let your child be another summer slide victim. Take charge of your child’s education today, and curb summer learning loss by signing them up. They will be grateful when they are older, and their stellar marks have allowed them to live their dreams. Most importantly, though, you will thank yourself as your child is one day going on to high school or university, where their consistent study habits will benefit them once again.