A Plea From a Teacher: The Summer Slide


It’s the end of the school year and you are one burnt out mama. You are tired of making lunches and checking backpacks. There is no more patience on reserve for nightly fights about homework and early morning battles over what to wear. You are exhausted.

If we are being honest here, this teacher is tired, and I know your children are as well. Trust me, I know how hard your children have worked this year. My colleagues and I have pushed them. We set ambitious goals and they continually worked hard to meet them. Our curriculum is intense, yet everyday your children amaze me with their creativity, perseverance, and ability to exceed expectations.

I do know that as summer approaches, they need time to be children. They need the chance to play outside for hours, swim, and ride bikes. Summer is a time to create memories, travel (locally or globally), and to play with friends. Summers teach children a whole new set of skills that the classroom does not, and that’s important too.

The only problem I have is the summer slide. No, I’m not talking about the big playground slide, but the regression of learning that takes place during those eight glorious weeks. I am not going to bore you with the research that proves that this is a real issue because truth be told, you know it’s true.  So let’s try to combat that a bit this summer!

Now, I am not asking you to sign your child up for enrichment programs or to sit with them for hours to review this past year’s skills. I said it earlier: I want them to enjoy their summers. I am just asking one small favor… have them read!

You still have to make dinner this summer; have them read for a half hour while you’re doing that. If you are home all day with them, at one point they are going to need some quiet time away from siblings; let them read then. If you are home and feeling adventurous, go on hunt to find your favorite reading spots throughout the state.

Have them read independently, read to them, read with them – all of these will help! Another recommendation: let your children choose the books they are interested in.  Allow them to find genres they love or hate. You pick what you want to read, so let them do the same.

If you are looking for some incentives, Ocean State Libraries typically runs a summer reading program. The different libraries offer different incentives, but essentially your children can earn points or prizes for reaching their reading goals. Go down to your local libraries and check it out. In addition, many of these libraries are offering some great summer programs that might break up your days a bit too!

If you are feeling really ambitious, you could even tackle a bit of math. Fact fluency is always important and there are so many great free apps and programs out there that can help. If you are allowing screen time this summer, have the first 10 minutes be fact fluency and the remaining time be their choice. Many programs send parents short reports on their child’s progress. One helpful tip: some programs have diagnostic tests that your child can complete on their own, which can assess their skill set and ability level.  This will help greatly with frustration levels and independence (and you can maybe drink a cup coffee).

Alright, this teacher is signing off! Enjoy your summer!

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Darlene is your typical Rhode Islander – she’s never left. She grew up watching Paw Sox games, drinking Dels, and gives directions according to landmarks, most of which no longer exist. She did attend high school in Southeastern Massachusetts, if that counts as leaving, and traveled all the way to South County to attend University of Rhode Island. After four years, she left with degrees in both Elementary Education and English. After college she began teaching and eventually found a home in third grade. Third graders are inquisitive, beginning to exert their own independence, and constantly make her laugh. They put up with her quirky sense of humor and her sobbing throughout read alouds.
Darlene ended up marrying the boy she fell in love with in high school. She and her husband have two daughters, an energetic two year old and the sweetest seven month old. Most days are spent trying to navigate full time jobs, raising two young children, reading, and drinking coffee. She loves to be outdoors and hopes that her girls will love camping, hiking, and kayaking as much as she does.