Summer Slide. Achievement Gap. Summer Slump. Summer Learning Loss.
Those names all describe a pattern that affects many students: the annual loss of skills that occurs during the school break each summer.
Recent test score declines are enough to convince me that the negative effects of pandemic-era school shutdowns and remote learning, combined with summer slide, add up to a true crisis that we must address.
Education’s role in national and local economic growth and competitiveness is not new information. Today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce and we cannot afford to allow them to be less than prepared. If you want your hospital to have nurses, technicians, researchers and physicians, you should be concerned. If you want to hire qualified employees or work beside qualified coworkers, you should care. If you want your child to be competitive to get into a good higher education institution, you should pay attention. If you want your computer-based car systems to work, you might want to weigh in on the problem.
We can amplify children’s learning throughout the summer in our everyday lives. My husband and I recently had the joy of spending two full weeks with my granddaughters who live out of town. We packed the time with adventures and experiences as well as close quiet time at home.
In all those environments, we were intentional about finding ways to demonstrate how reading, math, science and technology are a real part of our lives. For the three-year old, we talked about letters, shapes, colors and tactile experiences. With the 11 year old, we discussed fractions and measurement as we cooked together. We demonstrated how their classroom education is present in everyday aspects of their lives.
I invite you to join me in keeping education top-of-mind in your interactions with children and youth — from your kids to grandchildren, nieces and nephews or even the children of your friends. Make a conscious effort to find ways for kids to continue to learn during the summer.
We at UWDE support several excellent summer initiatives and below you will see information on Freedom Schools in Kent and Sussex Counties. Next week we’ll tell you about 21st Century Schools, another quality summer program. Stay tuned.
Michelle A. Taylor, Ed.D.
President and CEO, United Way of Delaware