3 Ways to Prevent the Summer Slide

Summer is fast approaching. For many students and parents, that means a break from school. However, just because school isn’t in session doesn’t mean learning has to go on hold.

With the help of some key components of Summit Learning, parents and children can prevent “the summer slide” and instead, help kids continue to build their skills and knowledge during summer break.

What’s the summer slide?

Brookings Institution researchers say the average student loses a month of academic-calendar learning each summer — that’s the summer slide. And unfortunately, the summer slide worsens as the years go by. That means the older students are, the more learning they tend to lose over the summer.

This is a problem because teachers have to re-teach concepts from the previous year at the beginning of the school year. Ultimately, robbing students of time they could be spending learning new knowledge and skills.

In a recent EdSurge article, one teacher recounted, “My colleagues and I budgeted substantial amounts of time to reteach our students the skills that they had learned the year before; it was no secret that summer vacation led to rusty skills and forgotten knowledge.”

How parents can help prevent the summer slide

The good news is the summer slide can be prevented — and parents like you can lead the way in helping students continue to build their skills and learning over the summer.

The Summit Learning Platform is a valuable tool we use to help parents support their children’s learning over the summer. By logging into the Platform at the end of the year, parents can see detailed information about where their child did well and where they can improve.

Marjorie Adcock, a teacher and parent at Bailey Bridge Middle School in Virginia, wrote a post for Ed Week sharing her experience with the Summit Learning Platform. She said it helped her personalize learning for every student, including her own children,“which ultimately made it easier to track progress, support my child and connect with her teachers on an ongoing basis.”

Tools like Summit can help you pinpoint areas to focus on over the summer. It’s the perfect way to prepare your child to be ready to learn new knowledge and skills in the fall.

Here’s how you can incorporate the components of Summit Learning into their summer plans.

1) Real-world projects

Real-world projects — a core component of Summit Learning — help students build cognitive skills like collaboration, communication, and critical thinking. Fun summertime events and activities present parents and kids with a plethora of opportunities to engage in real-world projects.

For example, you and your child can plant a garden and track the growth of different plants — similar to students at Aspen Valley Prep — to learn about sustainability and the environment, as well as build skills like data interpretation and pattern identification.

2) Goal-setting

Summer is the perfect time for setting goals, which can help children develop skills like perseverance and self-confidence. For example, as the school year winds down, you can ask your child what they want to accomplish by the Fourth of July, or by the end of the summer.

Work with your child to focus on creating goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound — or “SMART.” This family goal-setting activity from Summit Learning can help you and your child set SMART goals to build habits of success throughout the summer.

You also can encourage your child to set up “checkpoints” along the way to chart their progress and think about steps they need to take to achieve the summer goal. One PBS Kids parenting expert recommends working with your child to map out the steps toward their goal on a poster board, so they have a visual aid to guide and motivate them along the way.

3) Mentoring

For many families, summer is an opportunity to spend more time together and bond. As you’re strengthening your relationships with your children over the summer, you can serve not just as a parent but a mentor. In the Summit Learning Program, a mentor is an adult who knows the student deeply, is an advocate for them inside and outside the classroom, and supports them in pursuing their goals.

As a parent, you’re likely already taking on these activities for your child. As you continue to position yourself as a trusted mentor and role model to your child over the summer, consider these mentoring tips.

Just as schools use the key components of Summit Learning — including real-world projects, goal-setting, and mentoring — to help students grow in their skills and knowledge, parents can adapt these activities to keep their children learning throughout the summer — turning the summer slide into a summer gain.

Looking for ways to celebrate the end of the school year in style? Check out these action-packed ideas on how to finish the year strong.

About the author

Summit Learning
Summit Learning is a research–based approach to education designed to drive student engagement, meaningful learning, and strong student–teacher relationships that prepare students for life after graduation. Created by teachers with experience in diverse classrooms, Summit Learning is grounded in decades of research about how children learn. With Summit Learning, students gain mastery of core subjects like math, history, English, and science, while also carefully developing the skills and habits of lifelong learners. Summit Learning is independently led and operated by the nonprofit, Gradient Learning.