Three Tips to Stop Students’ ‘Summer Slide’

  • Summer Slide
    iStock photo
  • Dr. Lakia Scott
    Lakia M. Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor's School of Education (Meg Cullar/Baylor's School of Education)
July 20, 2016

Media Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, 254-710-4656

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WACO, Texas (July 20, 2016) – Summer may be a time of fun and rest for students, but too much relaxation can lead to the “summer slide,” or loss of academic skills over the summer.

“When we talk about summer slide, we think of that ladder where students will climb up to a certain expectation academically. If there aren’t any experiences for them to learn, they will slide down and dwindle,” said Lakia M. Scott, Ph.D., assistant professor of curriculum and instruction in Baylor’s School of Education.

“This has traumatic effects for the teachers in the classroom because now they have to go back to the previous school year, do more research and find out where students are academically and build them back up to where they should have been whenever they entered the school year.”

For those parents who may have been taking a break the first part of the summer, there is still time to engage students and help reduce the effects of the summer slide.

Scott provides several tips for parents to create opportunities for them to expand on concepts they learned throughout the school year.

1. Use everyday tasks or chores around the home to engage students.

“You can start off by just doing regular tasks around the home and ask students questions—anything to get them engaged,” Scott said. For example, while in the kitchen preparing meals or snacks, parents can ask their children to measure recipe ingredients, which provides a simple yet real example of fractions; count nutritional values of certain foods in percentages, grams or milligrams; or begin a discussion about the changes that occur as food is cooked.

“What are the chemical changes when you’re baking a cake and what goes in as a liquid comes out a solid, what is the temperature at which a piece of chicken is fully frozen or fully cooked, what is the difference between baking and boiling and how does it change what happens to food, what is the purpose of using foil versus just leaving food uncovered when you’re cooking it?” Scott said.

Any kind of chore around the house can become a “discovery trail,” Scott said. Even dusting the house can stir curiosity: Where does dust come from and how does it settle?

2. Focus on academic skills that have been challenging to students previously.

“If a student is struggling with a concept or skill, parents can take the extra step to help them build that skill over the summer,” Scott said. “If the student is struggling with math concepts, parents can have them pay for items at the store by counting out the correct amount or help students exchange money to understand currency exchange rates.”

If vocabulary words were a struggle during the school year, Scott suggests that parents use vocabulary cards or look at the vocabulary lists from the previous year and encourage students to relearn and use those words.

“Maybe have them to focus on 10 words a week and give them a test where they have to spell every word to receive a certain reward. Parents also can make games out of the words, where they may hide certain words around the house, and in order to receive the prize, their child has to find those words and know what they mean,” Scott said.

3. Explore free and engaging opportunities and programs in your community.

Local libraries, museums and parks are a great place to start, Scott said.

Many local libraries provide summer reading lists and reading logs in which students can track the minutes they read and earn prizes for accomplishing their reading goals.

“The library is a phenomenal place to bring students. All you need is a library card, which is free, and you can check out as many as 10 books every time you go. The library also has educational DVDs and videos for rent, and if you don’t have that much access to technology, the library has that technology piece, as well,” Scott said.

Museums and parks allow students to make real-world examples out of the things they learned in class no matter the subject.

“There are certain days when there is free admission to museums, so I encourage parents to explore those free opportunities,” Scott said. “Parks are areas of limitless opportunities when you think about ‘How can I make this educational?’ Parks have an array of different trees, different flowers and different plants. Students can take a picture and go research them online.” They also can measure the distance between certain points of interest, or while on a nature trail, determine how many steps it takes to make a mile.

A great way to explore a local community is by geotracking, a popular activity in which parents and students use a free navigational smartphone app to discover a city.

“It allows students to build on their social studies skills because they’re using geography, it builds on their mathematical skills because they’re using longitude, latitude, degrees and temperature, and they’re also increasing their reading comprehension because they’re learning more about the particular site that they visit,” Scott said.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT BAYLOR SCHOOL OF EDUCATION

Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The School prepares leaders beginning in undergraduate programs, continuing through master’s-level work and culminating in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs; impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning and community-focused research in local and global contexts; and shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

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