Beating the Summer Slide

Summer learning loss can happen to children while they are off during the summer months.

By Tiffany Ponzio, M.D.
Resident, Baylor College of Medicine, PGY3

When you hear “summer slide” you may think of water slides, slip ‘n slides, or slides into second base, but there’s a far more dangerous slide you should know about. “The summer slide,” otherwise known as summer learning loss, can happen to children while they are off during the summer months.

Some facts about the summer slide:

  • Children lose two to three months of reading development over the summer if they do not read.
  • Most students lose two months of math skills every summer.
  • Students from low-income households, who often have less access to books, are most likely to fall behind their peers.
  • A three-month gap in reading achievement exists between low-income and middle-income children following the summer break.
  • Over time, these months turn to years. By the time children enter middle school, a two-year gap in reading skills develops between kids who read during the summer and those who do not.
  • On average, teachers will spend the first four to six weeks of a new school year re-teaching lessons in an attempt to get children caught up.

How to beat the summer slide:

  • Visit your local library. Many local libraries offer free summer reading programs for kids that include not only access to lots of books but arts and crafts and other fun activities to encourage reading.
  • Make learning fun. Find books that your kids really love (topics that interest them such as comic books, dinosaurs, fantasy, etc.), or offer rewards when they complete at least 20-30 minutes of reading each day.
  • Look for math opportunities. Math is all around us. At the grocery store, children can count items in the shopping cart and add up the prices.
  • Cook together. Spending time in the kitchen involves both reading and math skills. Children can help out by reading recipes and measuring ingredients. F
  • Lead by example! If a child sees you reading for fun, they will likely want to do the same.

If you are concerned about your child’s summer slide, talk to your pediatrician for more tips. If you need a pediatrician, check out our online referral.