The school year is wrapping up, and most students won’t see the inside of a classroom for months. To kids, this means vacation, but to teachers it means lots of catch-up in the fall. According to a study by the John Hopkins’ Center for Summer Learning, without summer educational programs, the average student falls two months behind in his reading skills.
The “summer slide” disproportionately affects students living in poverty because their families may not have the access to summer educational opportunities available to more affluent families. This disparity goes a long way toward explaining the achievement gap that widens at each grade level. The good news is that there are easy, low-cost summer educational options out there—parents just need to be told about them.
As you send your students off this year, give them a parent letter with suggestions for affordable summer educational resources. These tips—based on John Hopkins’ research—will get you started.
- Find out when your local library is open and how to get a library card. Many libraries even have free summer programs. Step by step instructions and accurate information make it easier for parents to participate.
- Talk to the teachers of the grade level above you. Coordinate with them to provide students preparatory assignments to complete over the summer so they’ll have a jump start when they start the new school year.
- Encourage parents to practice math in everyday situations. Shopping, cooking, even walking the neighborhood can become math exercises.
- Research service learning opportunities in your community. Find out which ones students can participate in alone and which require parent involvement. Provide contact information so parents can sign up easily.
- Not all summer camps are financially out of reach. Look into what summer camps might be offered free of charge or at a low cost in your area. Libraries, schools, museums and even state parks may offer educational programs.
- Many zoos, museums and gardens offer low-cost admission to students at certain times of the year. See if any of these dates fall in the summer and let parents know how to participate.