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Monfredo: Parents Are You Doing Your Part To Stop The Summer Slide?

Sunday, July 10, 2016


This summer months are loved by many but as an educator, I shudder thinking  about the academic loss, known as the summer slide, that affects many of our low to middle income students.  Reseach for decades continues to show data that summer learning loss is the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of summer vacation. The loss in learning varies across grade level, subject matter, and family income. A common finding across numerous studies is that on average, students score lower on standardized tests at the end of the summer than they do at the beginning of summer (on the same test). Summer loss for all students is estimated to be equal to about two months of academics.  Most affected is….

•    Mathematics - 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency loss
•    Reading- Low income students generally lose about 2 months of reading achievement. Middle income students experience slight gains in reading performances.

For over a century, scholars have recognized that summer vacation is a period when students’ rate of academic development declines relative to the school year. All children lose academic skills during the summer months, and family socioeconomic status is highly correlated to the level of academic growth or decline in the summer months. Two-thirds of the academic achievement gap in reading and language found among high school students has been explained through the learning loss that occurs during the summer months of the primary school years. By the fifth grade, cumulative years of summer learning loss can leave low –income students up to three years behind their peers.  As the data shows more than half of the achievement gap accumulated by the ninth grade is attributed to summer learning loss.

As a former principal I saw the loss first hand and now as a school committee member I have attempted, year after year, to call attention to this on-going problem within our community. This is not just a school problem but also a community problem.  We need everyone to assist and call attention to what educators refer to as the summer slide. The slide occurs when young minds sit idle for three months. 

I hope that I have peaked your interest and  you want to do something about it.  Let’s look at a few suggestions… 

As a community let’s get our social agencies and inter-faith groups to get the children to the library.  The Worcester Public Library is the BEST bargain in the community. Libraries have a number of outstanding programs available and they need to reach out to the many groups and encourage them to take part. Let’s  send out news releases, and social media to announce these special events. Our cultural centers art museum, ecotarium, historical museums and Broad Meadow Brook should all be part of the learning process in reaching out to the community and  should suggest ways to make museums visits meaningful and fun for children of all ages. Those organizations running summer camp should have a staff person involved in having meaningful reading and math activities daily.

 There are many camps in almost every price range. There are camps provided by schools and recreation centers such as the YMCA, Rainbow Child Development, Girls Inc. and YWCA. Those organizations offer camp programs that can really offer summer learning opportunities.


Parents are the key during the summer time.  You are your child’s first and most influential teacher and you need to have a summer time schedule and keep it.  First of all be sure that your child does read 20 minutes a DAY and if your child is  interested in comics or technology, or hobbies you try to expose them as much as possible  allows them to  whatever their interest take them.   

How about a Family Night each week.  Bring out the popcorn and read a book.  Try once in a while to get a book based on a movie.  Then, show the movie and see if the book did follow the movie script. Many movies can be obtained at the Worcester Public Library and they are free.

Help your child find books that he finds interesting — especially on rainy days! These might include non-fiction books, fun fact books, arts and crafts books, hands-on activity and project books, or cookbooks with kid-friendly recipes. 

Reading aloud will also give your child the opportunity to practice his reading skills. Encourage rereading of favorite books he can read easily. For older children, ask them to read to you things that are interesting to them, such as the newspaper sports page, a detective novel, or a music magazine.


Please do not neglect math. Practice math skills every day. Think about opportunities through cooking to learn fractions, or trips to the grocery store as an opportunity to learn math skills, just doing measuring, or tracking temperature.  Play educational games at home.

Though it may not seem fun to them at the time, working on just three to four math problems per day during the summer can prevent students' mathematical skills from getting rusty. They can look at it as a daily challenge that they must complete, or a daily "to-do" to proudly check off their calendar. Parents can purchase a math workbook for their child's academic level at most bookstores or go on line and get math material.  Working on just a few problems daily (or more, if your child enjoys math) can help students of all ages close the gaps in their math skills, preserve what they learned during the previous school year, and prepare for the next.

How about card games?  Do you have a budding card shark in your family? Take advantage of her interest in games by playing a math card challenge! There are only three rules to remember: Remove face cards from the deck.
The Ace represents 1… evenly deal a deck of cards between two players and each player places one card face up. The first person to call out the product (or sum/difference) of the two cards wins the hand.  The player with the most cards in the end wins.

Here are a few websites for parents to check out…
www.gideomathandreading.com  or go on line and look for summer math activities

Worth mentioning, parents, please limit time with the TV and video games.  Just like during the school year, there should be a similar strategy over the summer months. It always makes sense to provide structure and limits. The key is providing a balance and keeping kids engaged.

One final note on summer learning is writing… Be sure that your child has a diary in the summer time ( any note book will do the trick) and have your child write the highlights of his day each evening before going to bed.  It’s important that your child writes for the more they write, just like reading, the better he will become with this skill.  Also, consider having him write weekly to the Worcester Telegram Happy Time Page for every Sunday in that section of the newspaper there is a topic to write and if you save the points given to him by the newspaper your child can acquire a free book at the end of the summer.

This is just a tip of the iceberg for there are many other ways to encourage summer learning but please, as I stated, have a plan in place and be consistent. Any questions or assistance please email me at [email protected].


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