On average, teachers spend the first three to six weeks of the new school year reviewing skills lost over summer break. Often, parents are unaware of the effects of summer slide, as illustrated by a 2014 poll by Reading is Fundamental that found only 17 percent of parents think reading should be a top summer priority. That’s why it’s important for teachers to take what steps they can in order to minimize the effects of an extended break from school.
Several studies have found that reading over the summer is the best way to prevent summer slide. The magic number varies depending on whom you ask: one study found that four to five books was enough to prevent loss of literacy skills, while another found that having kids read 12 books over the summer was on par with sending them to summer school. The key is getting high-interest books into kids’ hands.
What to Do Before Summer Break
Contact your local library system and invite their youth services coordinator to come talk to your class about the summer reading program. If they can pre-register kids or send home registration information, parents are more likely to make sure kids participate.
Round up some books and let kids choose some to take home and keep. This can be as simple as asking the public library, the PTA, or other community organizations to take up donations of gently used kids’ books.
What to Send Home
Put together a handout of resources for parents. Include information about the public library, local literacy groups, literacy tutors, and sources of free books.
Provide parents with the tools to foster a love of reading. Shell Education’s Summer Blast series includes parent activities and suggestions, and websites like Reading Rockets offer lots of tips that you can turn into printables.