Preventing the “Summer Slide”

As summer quickly approaches, students and teachers are looking forward to some relaxation, rest, perhaps a vacation, and extra time outdoors. However, what effect do the months away from school have on students? It’s something commonly called the “summer slide.”

The “summer slide” refers to the loss of learning retention over the summer months when students’ minds may be idle or out of practice. Many students will spend more time on the computer, playing video games, or watching television, and much less time reading and maintaining skills that were acquired during the school year.

So, how can we prevent “summer slide?” There are many easy tips and activities to slip in to a regular summer day that will provide practice without seeming like “work.” (Who wants to do worksheets over the summer? No one.) As a teacher, maybe you write up a brief letter to parents about “summer slide” and include a few of the following ideas. If you’re a parent, then you’re already in the right place!

The internet is full of resources and ideas on the subject, but here are a few favorites for you to try:

1) Plan and cook meals together. Discuss measurements, ingredients, cooking styles, and see what yummy recipes you can whip up!

2) Take a hike outdoors and make note of the various trees, flowers, and other vegetation. Collect some leaves or flowers and research what each one is when you get back home.

3) Play a game that requires a new skill (any new learning is good learning!) or make up a new game.

4) Read aloud to each other, taking turns, at least once a week (more often if possible), whether from a favorite book, newspaper, or comics. All reading is beneficial.

5) Make a weekly estimation jar using beans, peanuts, elbow macaroni, pocket change, jellybeans, or whatever you have around the house. Have each member of your family write down their guess, then count up the items and see which guess was closest. The prize could be anything from an ice cream cone to extra TV time.

6) Visit a museum or library and explore the exhibits/books together.

7) Write a story together. Come up with an idea, decide on characters and a plot, and take turns writing parts of the story. The end result will be creative and more than likely entertaining.

8) This one is the easiest: Talk to your kids. It sounds simple, but in the fast-paced, busy world we live in, it’s something that gets forgotten. Your kids learn more from you and talking to adults than watching TV or playing video games. Tell them a story from your childhood, ask them questions about their interests, or come up with goofy “What if you had to choose between…” questions to spark some conversation.

Do you have any to add to the list? What is your favorite summer learning activity?

Nonlinguistic Representations

One of Robert Marzano’s highly effective strategies is Nonlinguistic Representations. This teaching strategy taps into the imagery mode of learning. Traditionally, math is taught by the teacher talking to her students about the concepts, however, the nonlinguistic approach uses visual models. Big Ideas math incorporates this into their program regularly. For example, Laurie’s Notes often suggest ways to motivate students using everyday household items as a visual model and many activities ask the students to use manipulatives like Activity 1.5 in 6th grade or 5.2 in 7th grade. These are some of the ways Big Ideas Math uses Nonlinguistic Representations. Check out our program and I am sure you will be amazed at all the great things we are doing!       Lisa Goldsmith, Math Specialist