Summer Learning: Prevent the Summer Slide
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
Keeping the learning alive during summer vacation can bring challenges, especially if your students aren’t involved in summer camps or summer school. Many kids who don’t have the luxury of participating in extracurricular activities find themselves sitting at home watching television or playing video games.
Here are some ideas I've come up with to encourage my kids (or in some cases bribe them) to continue learning during the summer months. If they participate in my Summer Learning Incentive, they will receive a prize of some sort when they return to school in the fall.
Summer Learning Packet
Every year I put together a summer learning packet. They consist of language arts and math pages, as well as some decodable sight-word readers and a reading log.
Throughout the school year, I save extra worksheets, and by the end of the year, I have quite a large pile. I use these extra worksheets to create skill-specific learning packs for each student. For the kids who are at or above grade level, I create a packet to further extend their learning and help them to be better prepared for the next year.
Once I have all of the packets and books organized for each student, I draft a letter to the families explaining what the packet is for and how their children will benefit from working on it throughout the summer months. I also give them ideas for other activities, such as writing and drawing, and encourage them to visit the local library with their child.
Now for the bribe: Students who complete the packet and return it to me during the first week of school will receive a prize. I reward each child with a book, a pencil, and a notebook. Some years, depending on how many students there are, I also invite them to join me for a special pizza lunch.
During the final week of school, I send home the summer work packet in their daily homework binder. The binder is theirs to keep. It is full of reference materials and flashcards (provided they haven’t lost any of the materials during the school year). Sending it home before the last day of school gives parents time to read my note and ask questions should they have any.
Usually about one-third of my students return their summer homework when they return to school in the fall.
A list of fun ideas to be included in this year's packet:
- Our local library offers a summer reading program. Kids are encouraged to visit the library each week and read books for prizes. Parents sign a reading log that the children show the librarian, and in return, the librarian gives them a prize. Plus one day a week, a special activity, such as a puppet show, magic act, music, or crafts project, takes place, and usually during the last week of the program, they give each child a new book to encourage reading.
Many local libraries offer similar programs. Why not take your class on an end-of-the-year field trip to visit the library? For students who do not have library cards, send home the needed paperwork in advance so they can obtain their own card during the visit. If taking your class to the library isn’t possible, perhaps you could invite your local librarian to visit your school to encourage students to visit.
- Encourage families to look into inexpensive or free learning programs at your local community center, Boys Club, Girls Club, or parks and recreation department. If providing your students with a summer learning packet isn’t possible, perhaps you can provide them with a one-page list of activities they can do during the summer as an alternative.
With only a few weeks to go before our summer break begins, I’ve already started to prepare my packs and have told my class about the fabulous summer learning packet they will be receiving. As kindergartners who still LOVE homework and often ask for extra work, my students think this summer packet is the best thing since sliced bread.