Addressing Unfinished Learning and the Summer Slide
Our second pandemic summer is approaching, which means every educator is thinking about how they’re preparing their students to move ahead to the next grade.
And this summer presents new challenges. Any other year, educators would be working to prevent the summer slide, which is often done by providing students with work to complete during the school break, encouraging reading and other learning activities, and offering summer programs for students who need additional practice to master grade-level skills.
This year, with the prospect of returning to school buildings full-time on the horizon, educators are tasked with figuring out how to help students complete unfinished learning from the past two academic years while also preparing them for a more “typical” schooling experience in the fall.
And while the results of state summative assessments aren’t available yet, recent research has shown that students are especially behind on math skills, though reading and writing skill development has lagged, too.
So how can educators help students complete their unfinished learning, avoid the summer slide, and prepare for the next school year over the next several months?
While it may be tempting to focus on skills, concepts, and lessons that students missed, a better option is offering appropriately challenging, grade-level material. Challenging students in the right way can not only help them move forward in their learning, it can also motivate them to persevere even when they are challenged.
But more broadly speaking, offering additional learning opportunities is critical to setting students up for success next year, especially because the long break from school was a significant loss of learning opportunities that disproportionally affected marginalized students.
Providing students with access to structured programs that they can use independently and at home can help avoid the summer slide while also enabling students to reinforce what they’ve already learned and complete unfinished learning over the summer months.
Why Imagine Learning?
To address these challenges, Imagine Learning optimizes learning paths that enable students to focus on the exact concepts, skills, and material that they need to master to advance.
It’s important that content students engage with is respectful of their age, so Imagine Learning provides age-appropriate content that levels up in math and reading, giving students the supplemental learning resources and opportunities they need to move forward and prepare for the next school year.
Imagine Learning programs offer online, offline, and free resources to help students move forward in their education, whether that learning occurs in a structured summer school program or at home with their families and on their own time throughout the summer. And to further energize students, Imagine Learning runs motivation contests to reward students for their summer learning gains.
Additionally, Imagine Learning products recently earned Tech & Learning Remote Learning Awards and were named finalists and a winner by the EdTech Cool Tool Awards. Not all digital learning tools are well-suited for use in both remote and in-person learning settings, so using programs that are and have earned recognition for their outstanding contributions to transforming education can go a long way in helping your students make the most of their summer break.
Offline Activities to Prevent Summer Slide and Keep Students Learning
Structured learning opportunities are not the only ones that provide value to students, educators, and families, and time away from school can provide fertile ground for more unique, unplanned learning experiences.
As always, reading is one of the best things children can do to keep their minds active and sharp over the summer. When encouraging reading, remember that all reading is valuable, whether it’s comic books/graphic novels, ebooks, audiobooks, or physical books.
And spending time writing—whether through structured writing assignments, journaling, or correspondence with a friend or loved one—helps students work on their language and writing skills.
To keep math skills sharp, consider involving your student in creating and tracking the family budget. Or, for even more fun, cook with your child. Ask them to poll the family for a favorite recipe, then have them do the measuring math as you prepare the meal.
Visiting cultural sites, either in person or virtually, also enables students to learn more about history, art, and the world around them. And smaller, everyday activities, like going for a walk around your neighborhood, offer fun learning opportunities, too!
The most important thing educators and families can do is provide young children with lots of opportunities to learn, both structured and unstructured. The more we all can do this, the more prepared and ready students will be in the fall for what will hopefully be a return to a more “normal” schooling experience.