The Summer Slip and Slide
By Alicia Stevens
“No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks!”
This cheerful, yet partly-callous taunt reverberated through the halls on the last day of school. We headed to the exits to fling backpacks into corners at home, not be seen again for at least two months.
While the bookbags gathered dust and cobwebs, some of the material learned during the school year seemed to leak away from our minds, causing the proverbial “summer slide” that sets students behind for the next academic year.
Studies show that many students lose some ground in certain skills during the summer break; it takes about two weeks to regain the lost information.
Many proposals have been pitched to combat this tendency, including longer school years, changing the school break system, and outreach programs during the summer. In areas where summer programs are available, however, some families do not have the financial or logistical resources to make taking advantage of them possible.
When asked how parents might best help their kids with the “summer slide,” Ms. Newell, school counselor at Picayune Junior High School in Pearl River County, suggests parents “limit social media and engage with their children more in academic endeavors.”
The National Summer Learning Association offers ideas on its website, including daily reading, and setting reading goals. The best way to do this is to help them select books of interest from the library.
Tammy Ladner, Hancock High School counselor, echoed this by suggesting “reading for enjoyment” to help students not lose as much knowledge over the summer.
Along with the many coast and Pine Belt area libraries, Margaret Reed Crosby Memorial Library in Picayune can help. It will host summer activities open to preschool through sixth graders. For more information on these activities, call (601)798-5081.
To enhance reading comprehension, have your child keep a journal of books read and summer activities enjoyed.
Other ideas to promote family togetherness — and revisit prior concepts in new ways — can include planting a garden to enhance science skills.
For excursions away from home, consider going to museums, such as the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center in Gulfport, or to Stennis Space Center in Hancock County, to stimulate young minds in creative, historical and science-related topics.
Help kids work on math skills by allowing them to assist with baking a cake, or making calculations while at the grocery store. They can use coupons to determine the discounts on products being purchased. While you are at it, throw in a lesson on budgeting and money management, too!
The summer can be used for building life skills; volunteering with you at a local charity; or enjoying outdoor recreational fun, which can help kids see other ways to interact with their environment.
With some planning, the summer can be a time of building the new upon the old, so the fall school year not only starts on track, but will also be filled with new applications of old knowledge.
Alicia Stevens, a resident of Pearl River County, is a freelance writer, wife and mother of two who enjoys traveling with her family and friends.