Are you familiar with the concept of the summer slide?
It’s a common term used in the education field to describe the phenomenon of students “starting the academic year with achievement levels lower than where they were at the beginning of summer break.”
According to Brookings, a trusted research group, students’ achievement scores can decline by as much as one month’s worth of school-year learning over the summer.
Our intention in sharing this information isn’t to scare parents! In fact, there are effective ways for students to stay up to speed on their subjects so that they can hit the ground running in the new school year. But it’s important to act sooner rather than later.
The Cascading Effects of the Summer Slide
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Signet had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. David Stein, owner of New England Neurodevelopment, a Massachusetts-based company offering neuropsych testing and educational evaluations.
While our conversation focused on the “coronavirus slide” that impacted students during that time of significant disruption and uncertainty, Dr. Stein’s insights also apply to the summer slide.
As he explained, every student loses some skills when they don’t use them consistently, and it takes effort to reacquire the skills and information lost during a slide. The learning loss of conceptual abilities and new ways of thinking is part of that slide—and if that kind of mental flexibility doesn’t come to a student easily, it can be difficult to get it back.
Students with learning challenges, noted Dr. Stein, are particularly at risk of being affected by a slide and its cascading effects. These students are more susceptible to emotional problems like anxiety, depression, and substance abuse, so if academic problems worsen, emotional issues may be likely to follow.
Prevent Summer Learning Loss in Your Student
So, what can parents do to mitigate the effects of the summer slide for their kids, especially this late in the summer?
If your student is struggling with a specific subject, like geometry or English, getting them the support they need in that area of study is essential. Working through some kind of a review book or short course on Khan Academy before school starts can be extremely beneficial. Many students will also benefit from subject tutoring, which provides individualized one-on-one support. A few sessions to refresh your student on the topics that are most challenging for them may be just what they need to fight summer learning loss and start the school year strong.
On the other hand, if your student is battling a lack of motivation or an inability to get things done, reaching out to a therapist or an academic coach (i.e., a specialist who provides support at the crossroads of tutoring and therapy) is likely a good place to start. They can work to build some key skills in the weeks before school begins, and hit the ground running with a new confidence in their ability to learn and stay on top of assignments.
No matter what type of support your family could use, Signet is here for you. We take a holistic approach to helping students, aiming to understand them as unique individuals with complex needs. Connect with us today to discuss subject tutoring, academic coaching, and more.