TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Summer learning loss, also known as the “summer slide,” is not a new issue. The fact unfortunately remains once the school year comes to a close, students can lose more than two months of reading progress during the course of the summer.
According to the National Summer Learning Association, all young people experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. The association’s survey goes on to say that research spanning 100 years shows 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. In many cases, teachers have to spend more than just the first few weeks of the new school year getting students caught up and ready to take on the next level of learning.
No big deal?
While some may think this topic isn’t a big deal, studies have shown summer learning loss can have a cumulative effect year-over-year and in the long term, can result in significant impact on a student’s academic success, including whether or not a student graduates high school, as well as how prepared they are to enter the work force.
One might believe year-round schooling to be an effective solution to stemming the summer slide however, standardized tests, which is how learning loss is measured, show mixed results. The most consistent conclusion is students prosper when they participate in learning opportunities when school is not is session.
In order to combat the summer slide, the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District, Excellence in Education and other community organizations are working together to provide opportunities for kids to continue reading and learning over the summer months through the Tahoe Truckee Reads initiative.
Some of the programs include:
Neighborhood reading programs: TTUSD teachers and community volunteers are offering weekly reading and other fun in various neighborhoods with no registration necessary. Locations include Donner Creek Mobile Home Park, Sierra Village Apartments, Henness Flats, Tahoe Vista at Pocket Park, El Andar/Truckee Elementary, Truckee Pines Apartments and Assumption Church.
Open library times: The library at Glenshire Elementary is open Thursdays at 9 a.m., and Tahoe Lake Elementary School library is open from 8 a.m. to noon on Thursdays through Aug. 8.
Story time: The Bookshelf book store in Truckee offers story time for children ages 4-8 Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. There are other monthly activities for kids ages 8-12, and free book giveaways in July.
Library summer reading programs: The Kings Beach, Tahoe City and Truckee Libraries also offer summer reading programs, with a variety of additional events also scheduled throughout the summer.
In addition to complimentary local programs, there are a wide variety of resources available online for parents and students to generate ideas and come up with fun ways to continue learning over the summer months while practicing essential skills.
Some creative ideas for summer learning at home are provided by organizations such as SummerLearning.org, which suggests participating in low cost or free activities like visiting local museums or parks and having children write about their experience. Planning and planting a garden, using counting skills in every day activities and errands, and keeping a journal about the books kids are reading, their favorite summer events or activities, and the new friends they’ve made are also recommended as easy ways to keep kids engaged and learning.
Experts agree summer learning loss is concerning and is a trend that is continuing, not diminishing. In light of this issue, with parent support, the willingness to be creative, and often simply taking advantage of nature and the great outdoors as a classroom, kids don’t have to succumb to its affects. They can actually use learning opportunities during the summer to prepare for the next grade level, beginning the school year ready to take on new challenges.
Easy summer reading tips
1. Run to the library: Get a card, an endless supply of free books, join Summer Reading Programs with fun prizes.
2. Going to the store? Children can read grocery items, write a shopping list or find items in the store that start with a particular letter.
3. Read everything: Read a wide range of materials — books, magazines, newspapers, comic books.
4. Have D.E.A.R. time: Drop Everything And Read for 15 minutes with the family.
5. Book nook: Create a special place in your house for books — a shelf, a corner, a basket, a table, a box.
6. Cozy up: Read together, out loud, every week. Parents and kids take turns reading to each other.
7. Set a goal: Set a reading goal with your children and keep track of what they read on a poster they create.
8. Play games: Crossword puzzles, word search puzzles, create clues for a treasure hunt, make reading bingo cards and play.
9. Collect: Create your own home library with books from garage sales, thrift stores and local bookstores.
10. Celebrate: When your child reads a book, celebrate!