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PREVENTING THE SUMMER SLIDE


So, is it hot enough for you? It is reported that we are in the midst of an official heat wave. Looking for a cool place to chill? If your air conditioner goes on the blink, check out your local library! Take your son, daughter or, a child in the neighborhood with you. Help prevent the summer slide.


“What is the summer slide?” It is what many students experience during the months that follow the end of the school year. Experts agree that students who read during the summer experience academic success, and the opposite is true for students who do not. According to a report from the National Summer Learning Association (https://www.summerlearning.org/ ) "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly twenty two percent of the school year. Educators often spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."


During my years in the classroom, I often used the month of September and part of October re-teaching the previous year’s skills while implementing the current year’s curriculum. Although it was an arduous balancing act, it was a necessary endeavor. Some of my students spent their summer traveling, going to camp, and participating in various types of educational activities. Regular reading was a part of their summer. Yet there were far too many students who were not as fortunate.


With the increasing literacy demands that our students face, it is imperative that we address the summer slide. For the last two school years, our children have had to deal with major disruptions in learning caused by the pandemic, lack of adequate internet access for ALL students, and the inability to interact with their peers to name a few. These are just some of the obstacles to learning. Now more than ever, we must do everything we can to bridge learning gaps and help children maintain their academic skills.

Educators, parents, the local community, and policy makers must continue to diminish the loss of learning by developing and implementing various strategies. We are all responsible.

  • Summer programs summer learning experiences (formerly known as summer school). Attendance is often voluntary and the neediest students do not always participate. Programs must be engaging, incorporate remediation, provide enrichment and, include fun activities and field trips.

  • Summer assignments. This is a controversial topic. Some students do not complete the assignments even when a grade is attached. Consider offering students options and allowing them to be a part of the planning process. Create other incentives or prizes for completing the assignments.

  • Summer reading clubs and incentives sponsored by the local public library. Local libraries offer incentives for students to log the number of books and/or pages read. Many students must rely on an adult to bring them to the library. Work schedules and other issues may be a hindrance. Parents and caring adults can work together to ensure that children are able to participate.

  • Extended school year/day. Evidence-based studies indicate that districts across the country and in other countries have successfully created positive extended school programs that yield positive student outcomes. Policy makers, local school boards, community groups, and teacher unions must work together to seek viable solutions.

As a literacy advocate, I urge students to read, read, read throughout the summer. Whether they choose to read fiction, graphic novels, comics, or informational text - whether they love the feel of turning pages or- whether they opt to read by sliding their fingers across an electronic device - reading is one of the most effective ways to keep students on track academically throughout the summer.


Sharing books about real life events students can learn from, and relate to is essential. My Lizzie B. Hayes middle grade series offers a historical view of events through the innocent eyes of a child. Book 1, Summertime with Lizzie B. Hayes, transports readers to a simpler time when kids played outdoors until the street lights came on and most families gathered together around the dinner table. But the ‘60s was also one of the most turbulent times in our country’s history, Lizzie and her family experiences firsthand the fateful summer of unrest, the 1967 rebellion in Newark, NJ.


Book 2 of the Lizzie B. Hayes series, Lizzie B. Hayes and the Great Camp Caper picks up two years later. Lizzie is on a two-week summer adventure at sleep away camp with the Girl Scouts. At Camp Chicktawanga, Lizzie must learn to take care of herself without her loving family and deal with a bully in her cabin. When she and the bully get lost on an overnight hike, things really heat up.


I write to bring children joy, empower children to overcome life’s challenges, and create a lifelong love of reading.


Below are a few of my favorite resources to motivate students to read throughout the summer:

The American Library Association

The Brown Bookshelf

Just Us Books

Readingrockets.org

Local bookstores

Local libraries

Goodreads.com

Bank Street College


Middle Grade Book Suggestions:


Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky

Kwame Mbalia

Rick Riordan Presents

Disney Hyperion

2019

Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he’s going to spend on his grandfathers’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal from the tragedy.


Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship