July 8th 2013

Beware the Summer Slide! Sounds scary and exciting, but this slide is no amusement park ride. Summer Slide is a term that refers to the substantial loss of academic skills which occurs once school closes for the summer. Summer Slide is a major contributor to the Learning Gap that exists for children who are left on their own for the summer without books and other mentally stimulating activity.

According to the National Summer Learning Association, “A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.”

This is not news to teachers who must plan weeks of review lessons at the beginning of each school year. What is new is that we can predict which children’s academic success will be most affected.

“Students from low-income families experience an average summer learning loss in reading achievement of over two months. Not only do these students suffer greater sliding during the summer, they also experience cumulative effects of greater learning loss each summer.”

According to Sean F. Reardon, Stanford professor of education and sociology, over the last few decades differences in educational success between high- and lower-income students have grown substantially. There is evidence that achievement gaps between the two groups actually narrow during the nine-month school year, but they widen again in the summer months.

Parents can prevent learning loss during the summer by spending time with their children talking, playing board games and card games, and especially, reading together.

Free children’s books and information for parents will be available beginning June 15 through a new family reading initiative called READ UP. Parents are invited to join project READ UP and prevent Summer Slide this summer.

The Children’s Reading Foundation will distribute 35,000 children’s books to families in Dona Ana County this summer through READ UP, as part of an Innovative Approaches to Learning grant from the US Department of Education.

Parents can sign up their families at the READ UP BOOK FAIR kick-off event on Saturday, June 15 at 3880 Foothills Road from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm in the Community Action Agency building (CAA).

Dawn Hommer, CAA Executive Director, invites all families to enjoy the free kick off activities at CAA. “We hope parents will take this opportunity to celebrate Father’s Day early with us. Everyone attending will have a chance to win a free audio book! We are planning refreshments, story-telling and fun activities for all ages. In addition, my staff will be available to provide screening for additional benefits that CAA provides.”

Free eye tests will be offered by the Lions Crane Vision Screening team.

Read Up is an eight week project that encourages parents to read with their children 20 minutes a day by providing books for children and information and incentives for parents once a week. Each week a new selection of titles will be offered in both English and Spanish. There will be books that are appropriate for very young children as well as books for readers up to age eight.

A list of READ UP locations will be available at CAA on June 15. Locations are scattered around the county and will include community centers, public parks, and some schools. Families and Youth Inc. (FYI) Summer Food Service will host READ UP once a week with read aloud story-telling during the summer lunch program.

Volunteers are needed to read aloud to children and distribute books at each location. If you can help or wish to provide a Read Up location for your neighborhood please contact Trudy Gallegos email: trudygg@gmail.com, telephone: 575-312-6262

What books will your family enjoy this summer? Tell us about the brain games you and your children like to play. Email roriecrf@gmail.com to share your ideas for future columns.