Preventing the Summer Slide Sets Kids Up for Success
While summer vacation has just started for kids across Los Angeles, Children’s Institute’s early childhood educators are making sure their students don’t miss out on learning opportunities during the long break. Though Summer Slide sounds like a thrilling amusement park attraction, the term refers to the decline in reading and other academic skills that occurs when school is not in session – particularly for low income students.
Unlike more affluent children who participate in camps and other enrichment activities, many children served by CII spend their summer indoors, watching TV or playing video games. By the time they return to school in the fall, they’ve fallen behind, exacerbating the achievement gap, and may spend months catching up to their peers.
But there are opportunities everywhere for children to learn throughout vacation. Dalila Rodriguez, Director of Early Childhood Education at Children’s Institute, says learning during the summer isn’t a luxury only wealthy families can afford. A number of free community resources make it easier for low income children to keep up with their peers over the summer months, and there are many activities parents can do with their kids to spark learning.
Many of CII’s Early Childhood Education programs avoid the Summer Slide altogether. Some centers close for only two weeks, minimizing out of school time and allowing parents to maintain their regular work schedules. At centers that follow a traditional school schedule, CII’s monthly parent groups continue during the summer months even when the centers are closed. This way families can share strategies for keeping children engaged and access free community resources and tips to keep their children learning.
Daniela Troya, Senior Early Childhood Services Manager, says CII teachers use summer to reinforce that parents should always be active participants in their child’s education. While children are vulnerable to falling behind during school breaks, parents involved in learning year-round help create better academic outcomes for their kids.
“Families are lifelong teachers and we want to promote that,” Rodriguez says. “Summer is a really good time to remind parents about how important it is to spend time with their kids and help with the learning process.”
Here are some helpful tips CII recommends to ensure students continue to learn outside of the classroom.