**The following article was written by guest blogger, Ariana Steck. **
As the school year comes to an end, many children and families look forward to how they will spend their summer break. Field trips, vacations, and special visits to and from family all make summer a memorable time. As you're building these memories, it's important to keep in mind something else that can happen over summer: learning loss.
What is "summer learning loss"?
Summer learning loss sometimes referred to as the summer slide, is the concept that children lose knowledge and academic skills over the months when they are not enrolled in school. This learning loss disproportionately affects children from low-income families who lose an average of 2.5 months of reading skills over summer break. When this summer learning loss occurs every summer over the course of a studentÃ¢â¬â¢s life, they continue to fall further behind in school widening the gap between those children who continue learning over the summer and those who do not. These seemingly small losses add up over time and can have startling impacts on a child's current academic year and their future.
View everywhere you go as an opportunity to teach and learn.
Summer learning loss is not limited to only school school-age children. Children in early education are also impacted by this phenomenon. As the preschool year comes to an end, it's important to ensure summer break encourages and embraces learning. Look around you at all of the ways learning can happen. View everywhere you go and everything you see as an opportunity to teach and learn. Count how many butterflies you see on a walk. Look for all of the items that are red when you visit the grocery store. See how many shapes you can find in the natural world. Read a story every day and turn your setting into a print rich environment by labeling items your child interacts with. Use bath time to reflect on all of the things you learned each day. Focus on non-academic skills too. Help with routines and structure by ensuring your summer break follows a daily schedule. Teach your child the importance of sharing and socializing while visiting the park. Many libraries offer story times where your child can practice sitting quietly while patiently listening.
The loss of academic skills and knowledge over the summer makes starting the school year even more difficult for children, parents, and teachers. It's important to not just rely on the learning that takes place during the months a child is in school and ensure that learning is embraced and supported during the summer as well. Help avoid summer learning loss by making learning a priority this summer.
Check out the IDEAS section in these past issues of CRS CONNECT for more ways to avoid summer learning loss.
Also, visit our Resource & Toy Lending Library for curriculum ideas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ariana Steck joined the YMCA CRS team in 2006 as a Child Care Consultant educating families on child care options and how to make informed decisions regarding quality care. In addition to providing referrals, Ariana helped implement quality assurance standards to ensure consumer education information is shared with all families receiving referrals through YMCA CRS. Ariana worked as the Quality Assurance and Data Specialist overseeing data collection, analysis, and reporting according to National and State standards. Ariana transitioned to her current role of Executive Administration Specialist in 2015. She manages various projects for the agency and is the Supervisor of Early Learning Readiness (ELR), a Y of the USA Achievement Gap signature program. In addition, Ariana is an Adjunct Professor of Sociology at a local California State University.
Ariana has a B.A. in Social Science with an emphasis in Sociology, History, and Communication. She also has an M.A. in Sociological Practice and completed her thesis on how parents use and choose child care.