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According to the National Summer Learning Association, nine out of ten teachers spend the first three weeks of the school year re-teaching lessons. That means that students are performing about a month behind where they left off the previous year. This is largely due to what is referred to as the Summer Slide, which is a steady decline of learning and retention in the summer months. Fortunately there are affordable ways teachers, administration, and parents can work to avoid this.
Summer programs are offered through public and private schools, colleges, independent organizations, tutoring services, churches and even online. Programs offered through a child’s school is ideal because it can be more affordable than a private program. Often these district programs include camps in the areas of science, creative arts, athletics, STEM, etc. Sometimes they fill up quickly so forward planning is crucial.
Many districts have a calendar of summer events posted online. If a month-long camp is too much of a commitment for families, they can opt for a day activity now and then. If available, parents should get involved and volunteer at programs of interest. This sets a shining example of the lifelong learner all parents want for their children.
Although many districts do offer these programs, they really should be made more of a priority. Staff can ultimately save resources for the upcoming year, not to mention the potential benefit of increased test scores. The low cost of district-offered programs benefit low-income families who are the main victims of the Summer Slide. Parents can contact local school districts to advocate for summer programs in their neighborhood. Educators can talk to administrators to affirm the important of these programs.
For middle and high school-aged students looking to stay engaged and proactive during summer, nearby community colleges offer a wide selection of courses– albeit at a price. This is a great opportunity for adolescents to expand on their skills or pursue a possible career interest. The Best College Reviews Organization compiled a list of impressive summer programs in various colleges around the United States. Teachers and parents can research to find out what is offered in their area.
If price is a concern, an often cheaper option for summer learning is online programs. Some programs are free and others are offered at a low price. These cater to all age groups, but may be more suitable for older students with a substantial attention span. Online schools and organizations offer credit recovery courses, interest-based courses, foreign language courses and many other choices. For families with busy schedules, this is a more flexible option.
Parents, teachers, and administrators should advocate for and support summer programs that benefit students. These programs can serve as a way to prevent summer learning loss and narrow the achievement gap overall. Come fall, students and teachers alike will benefit from the summer learning.