Around the country, students are leaving the classroom to soak up the summer sun, relax with friends and take a break from schoolwork. But there is a darker side to the summertime that teachers and parents might know all too well — it’s called summer slide.
The phenomenon has been studied by researchers in education and by sociologists. Their findings come to a similarly sad conclusion: All young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Summer slide accounts for about two-thirds of the ninth grade achievement gap in reading. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.
Worst of all, summer slide is highly correlated with income. For every line of text a low-income student reads, a middle-income student will read three.
Thankfully, there are several free tools that all students can use to keep from sliding this summer:
The Big History Project: Students and adults alike can journey through nearly 14 billion years of history in this self-guided, six-hour version of Big History. These lessons have videos, interactives and images. Best of all, they also come leveled, courtesy of Newsela.
Shakespeare for Kids: Shakespeare articles are perennially popular on Newsela, and this resource from the Folger Shakespeare Library highlights the lighter side of The Bard’s work. Students can act out scripts, explore trivia, and even brush up on Shakespearean compliments (and insults).
PBS Kids Reading Games: With reading games of all different themes and for mostly younger students, parents and students can explore the free PBS offerings which have no advertisements.
Newsela’s Summer Reading Challenge: From June 1 through Aug. 14, students across the globe in grades 2-12 can read news stories directly from their smartphones, receive newsroom promotions, earn points for the number of words they read and badges to recognize their reading accomplishments.
Your local public library: Did you know that public library summer programs date back to the 19th century? These programs, as well as book lists from the American Library Association and Young Adult Library Services Association, can help keep students reading through the summer months.
Teachers and parents, what tips do you have to fight summer slide? Let us know @Newsela on Twitter.