Every fall, students start the school year with academic levels that place lower than they were a couple months ago, before summer. Commonly referred to as the “summer slide”, the setback occurs to most students, whether they be in elementary, middle, or high school, and has been an infamous phenomenon among teachers and parents. In the past few decades, the topic has sparked much interest among education researchers and has lead to discoveries ranging from causes of the slump to ways it can be prevented.
Studies show that a typical student regresses approximately a month’s worth of school during the summer, but the statistics differ depending on the financial background of the student. Generally, students from high or middle income families experience less summer slide than students from a low income family, presumably because there are more resources available to them, and the family is able to support the student. Additionally, a student’s race or gender shows no correlation to the results at all. Since more material is covered as the grades progress, the gap also becomes larger as students enter higher grades and is more evident in mathematics, a skill that isn’t used as frequently in daily life as reading and writing.
With the conclusion of an academic year, summer is usually considered a time for break and fun away from school work and stress. However, summertime also represents a point of transition from one grade to another, and can be one of the most critical times of the year to prepare for the next grade and make sure the material that’s been covered in previous grades is retained. So at such a crucial time of the year, why does summer slide still occur?
Summer slide occurs for an obvious reason: students aren’t engaging in educational activities over the summer months. Many students prefer to leave school behind once the year is over, not thinking to open a book or challenge their minds in any way. The mindset most students have is what leads to the eventual loss. Luckily, a few simple changes in habits and daily commitment can help prevent the hitch.
The best and easiest way to keep consistent is to read on a daily basis, whether it be books or newspapers. There is nothing to lose by taking a trip to the local library or dedicating ten minutes to read a couple pages of a book everyday. Instead of playing video games, scrolling through Instagram, or binge watching TV shows all day, there are alternatives such as playing educational games, doing arts and crafts, or setting healthy habits to lead a more productive day and get the brain working. None of these activities require excess amounts of concentration or energy, although more hardcore options such as going to summer school, receiving tutoring, or solving workbooks will definitely require more engagement. Summer should still be a time to relax and enjoy a break, but it’s important to stay in check with good habits lead a lifestyle that ensures both the body and the brain constant use and development for the future.
Joyce Kim, Grade 9
La Canada High School