Truman College Expert Shares Tips for Avoiding the Summer Slide

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With many schools in the area now on or approaching summer break, parents may hear the phrase “summer slide” come up – in conversations with friends or teachers, in the media, or elsewhere. For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, it’s not an activity at the neighborhood playground or waterpark. Instead, according to Hollie Ware-Jaye, Dean of Education and Teacher Programs at Truman College, the summer slide is what happens “when students lose some of the academic gains they had achieved during the school year by not engaging in continual practice or application of a skill set over the summer months.”

Dean Hollie Ware-Jaye

While many parents picked up skills stepping in as assistant teachers, tutors, and more during the pandemic, summer break is a unique time for students – one that can present challenges for both students and parents alike. To help Chicagoans avoid the dreaded summer slide and make the most of the three-month break, Dean Ware-Jaye provided a few recommendations on how to keep kids engaged and actually strengthen their skill sets during the time away from the classroom.

  1. Visit your local library.
  • Pick up a few resources and books on topics your child is interested in learning about. Read the materials together and engage in conversation with your child about what they’ve learned.
  • Ask your child to create a project on the topic to share with the family, allowing them to select the format in which the information is displayed (i.e. poem, movie, comic book).
  1. Plan a trip – even if it’s just around the block.
  • Work with your child to develop the route and amount of gas needed.
  • Research places to visit and develop a budget for the trip.
  1. Try out a new recipe.
  • Research the country of origin of the recipe.
  • Discuss how math is utilized in everyday activities.
  1. Finally, look at the break as an opportunity for summer enrichment.
  • Talk to your child about skills they would like to strengthen over the summer months. This may lead to conversations about things they would like to learn and explore during the school year.

Before parents start creating a laundry list of summer activities, Dean Ware-Jaye says that “all interests and activities that your children have are opportunities to teach or strengthen knowledge or apply practice.” In other words, you don’t have to stress yourself out or reinvent the wheel to strengthen kids’ skills this summer.

“The best way to maximize comprehension and retention of information is to make the activities interactive and the information relatable,” Dean Ware-Jaye suggests.