Making connections to prevent the summer slide

Summertime provides children a welcome break from the classroom. Summer vacation means fun – playtime with friends, family gatherings, adventure and lazy days.

But when children spend two or more months away from the regular exercise of learning, they are at risk of the “summer slide.” Kids not exposed to ongoing summer learning can lose anywhere from one to three months of what they learned in the previous grade. When that happens, children start the next year playing catch up.

Summer is the perfect time to expand learning beyond the classroom basics and encourage curiosity and connections.

Making connections to what your child experiences in the real world is an important part of reading. Learning how to do this greatly helps in developing your child’s comprehension. After all, real reading is reading that has meaning.

Making connections is a reading comprehension strategy that helps students find meaning in a text by connecting it to their background knowledge. Sometimes you may hear this as being prior knowledge. Students have to be able to draw on what they already know to make sense of what they read.

Making connections helps your child personally relate to a book. Children with varied experiences will find it easier to make more meaningful connections than those with more limited experiences. When readers make connections to the texts they read, they’re more likely to understand what they read, remember what they read, and enjoy what they read.

Although it might be hard during the long summer days, parents can halt the summer slide by limiting screen time. Replace it with activities such as an art project, a nature scavenger hunt or play outside with peers. Expose your child to the many activities that the community has to offer.

Some valuable places to connect with are the local library or a local bookstore. Check out the various programs that they have to offer and ask for suggestions of books that tie into what your child has participated in. That way, your child has some background knowledge that they can draw on when reading the book. Find books that coordinate with a family activity or a family trip. It’s a good idea to look for books that relate to your child’s interests. Do they love fishing? How about swimming? Does your family go camping or rock collecting?

Whatever you do, make it fun and interactive.  Your child will enjoy new adventures, especially if they are with the people they love most in this world – their parents and families.