It may sound ironic, but the summer months are some of the most important in the school year. You read that correctly: the summer months play a vital role in a student's academic momentum and growth. According to data collected in 2020 through the MAP Growth assessments, students in 3rd to 5th grade lose an average of 20 percent of their school-year gains in reading over the summer months. Young elementary students are also, and perhaps even more so, at risk of suffering the "summer slide" because they are earlier in the development of their academic skills.
While there's not a magic formula for having the "right" amount of reading and math practice at home during the summer, the best way for young students to maintain academic momentum (and avoid the "summer slide") is to "stay in it." For younger students, this may look like parents continuing to read books to their children and having conversations about what they read, encouraging the young student to write things as part of play (a grocery list, a restaurant order), and playing games involving numbers or counting ("Guess My Number," "Chutes and Ladders," "Sorry," etc.). For older students, this may look like encouraging independent reading. Readers of all ages may benefit from enrolling in a local library's summer reading initiative for an added element of motivation.
For reluctant readers or students who want (or need!) to branch out a bit in their reading, consider spicing it up with some non-fiction. Non-fiction may not sound all that--appetizing--but there are a few series that are fantastic for engaging young readers! Here are two of our favorites:
One crowd favorite is the “Blastoff Readers" series. These are geared initially towards the earliest of readers but grow with the kids into higher reading levels. This company and the authors do a great job of making these books visually engaging and inclusive of important information without compromising the developing reader premise of the book. These books can often be the key to getting reluctant readers engaged, particularly boys that can be tempted with something like a snake book that is high interest and low difficulty...that gets them to practice their reading without realizing it!
Another series is the "Toy Trailblazers" collection. These books introduce young readers to a biography using something very interesting to them such as a favorite toy. This makes the concept so much more relatable than trying to abstractly understand something like the invention of electricity at a young age.
Summer reading of any kind is helpful and beneficial to students. Just remember: stay "in it"!