How Mansfield Parents Can Fight The Summer Slide

  • 6/11/2019 10:27:04 AM
  • Jenna Ramolt
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - Students and teachers alike look forward to summer vacation all year, but some studies show that kids relaxing too much over summer break can actually hurt their overall learning experience in the future. Luckily, there are resources available to parents to help fight the phenomenon called the "summer slide."

It's a concept that has always been around, but hadn't really been studied until recently according to Chris May, the Director of the Mansfield/Richland County Public Library.

"Johns Hopkins University actually did a study in 2007 and found that students leave the school year at a certain level of educational understanding, and that drops over the course of the summer. So when they re-enter school the next year at a higher level, they're not quite there," said May.

OSU Mansfield Associate Professor of Education Donna Farland-Smith equates it to losing muscle mass when an individual stops exercising. If students don't "work out" those skills, they can lose up to three months' worth of math and reading progress. Unfortunately, this phenomenon can disproportionately effect children from low-income households and children with learning disabilities.

The best solution, May and Dr. Farland-Smith agree, is practice. May says that about twenty minutes a day of guided or independent reading is enough to offset the loss of learning, while Dr. Farland-Smith recommends ten minutes of reading or math practice a few days a week.

"Kids need time to just hang out with their friends, kids need time to sleep, to play outside, to play video games... all they need is a little bit of time to remember those skills that they were working on," said Dr. Farland-Smith. "So maybe something like three times a week, ten, fifteen minutes... so that when they get to school in August, teachers don't have to spend a significant amount of time catching up on those skills."

Luckily, there are many resources out there to help parents and kids work on these skills over the summer in fun and simple ways. Dr. Farland-Smith recommends a reading app called Epic for literacy skills, which frequently runs summer specials. The place with the most resources at the lowest cost, however, is the public library.

The Mansfield/Richland County Public library is among hundreds that increase their children's programming significantly over summer break, and taking advantage of those many resources can help parents fight the summer slide. Across nine different locations the library offers reading programs, scavenger hunts, and themed events to keep kids engaged. More information on programming for kids, teens, and adults can be found on the library's web site.

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