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Preventing The Summer Slide

Each fall, teachers regularly spend up to six weeks going over the same lessons their students had been taught the previous school year because of a phenomenon known as the "summer slide."

How kids spend their time outside of school is critically important to their success. It is a societal issue and something Ron Fairchild, the executive director of the Center for Summer Learning at Johns Hopkins University, tells The Early Show is important to address, community-to-community and parent-to-parent.

The following are his tips:

  • Visit your local public library. Use this as an opportunity to read every day. Participate in library summer programs; make sure they're reading books. Use opportunities like the new Harry Potter release to get kids reading.
  • There are many camps in almost every price range. There are camps provided by schools and recreation centers such as the YMCA. Those kinds of organizations offer camp programs that can really offer help learning.
  • Take educational trips, which can be low-cost visits to parks and museums, or you can look into vacations with educational themes.
  • Summers are great for informal learning. Parents can use this time to structure opportunities. If they're interested in comics or technology, you want to expose them to as much as possible that allows them to become a student of their hobbies.
  • Practice math skills every day. Think about opportunities through cooking to learn fractions, or trips to the grocery store as an opportunity to learn math skills, just doing measuring, or tracking temperature. Play educational games. The trick is: How do we make this fun and motivating while giving them serious opportunities to learn the skills they need?
  • Limit time with TV and video games. Just like during the school year, there should be a similar strategy over the summer months. It always makes sense to provide structure and limits. The key is providing a balance and keeping kids engaged.

    Since there is a huge gap in summer opportunities between middle class and lower income kids, Fairchild says dual-working or single working parents should find those summer camp programs provided at low or no cost in their communities to make sure their kids don't fall behind in the summer time.

    Public investment and support are critically important over the summer months. Many school districts are looking into expanding summer programs. With organizations like YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, part of their mission is to provide summer learning to low-income families.