Friday, July 29, 2011

Avoiding the Summer Slide

By Sean Scarpiello

As August quickly approaches, students are realizing that summer is slowly coming to an end. With only one month left in their summer vacation, many students and parents are beginning to prepare for the beginning of the new school year. The aisles of stores are crawling with parents buying everything from notebooks and binders to calculators and protractors. Even though students have their school supplies, are they really prepared to return to school? During the last two months, students have had little mental stimulation. They have not practiced math problems or read a book since the beginning of June. How does this affect students and teachers during the school year and what can school districts do to avoid this problem?

The fact that students’ brains are on standby during the summer really hurts both the student and the teacher. Today’s students are not keeping their brains stimulated during the summer by revising the material they learned during the previous school year. This causes students to forget a lot of structured material for future learning. Therefore, teachers are forced to review past material in class which wastes valuable class time. If students arrived to school in September ready to go, teachers would have a much easier time with teaching the curriculum at a reasonable pace. Statistics describe that about 2.6 months of math material can be lost over the summer for some students. When teachers need to reteach this information to students in the beginning of the school year, it makes it difficult to stay on track. Because teachers use September as a review period, it is a struggle to finsh up the required lessons in June.

This problem is sweeping schools across the country and it is hard to come up with a simple solution to this problem. Some schools assign a required summer reading book. This is a great idea and can keep students thinking during the summer, but it is hard to administer. Some students get lazy and do not read the book because it is long or too boring. Only a select group of parents will actually encourage students to read the book, while others do not. A parent’s role is crucial to the success of their children in schools all over the world. If parents are not involved, then there is a good chance that students will not be fully involved either.

One other method of keeping students studying during the summer would be assigning work to do daily in a workbook. My parents had always encouraged me to do a few pages of math problems each day during the summer. The math was material that I had already learned and it was just practice so that I would not forget math equations from the previous year. Schools could create a similar workbook that is required to be finished over the summer. However, there is still the possibility that parents will not enforce the school’s requirements at home. Therefore, students would arrive to school in September at different levels because half the class did the assigned work and half did not. Parents should have their children practice math or English during the summer. It does not have to be a huge amount of time each day, just about twenty or thirty minutes daily. This time quickly adds up and it will give students an advantage when they return to school in the fall.

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