SUMMER SLIDE: “A term that suggests a playful amusement park attraction but actually describes a grim reality.” ~Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)

Grim reality? Sounds ominous. Aren’t slides supposed to be FUN? Not this kind of slide, unfortunately.

Alva Sachs from reports that on average, students lose two months of reading skills over the summer according to Oxford Learning.

“As a former elementary school teacher, the summer slide for me with my students was observed by how much had to be re-taught in the beginning of the semester,” explains Sachs, award-winning children’s book author, educator, and president of Reading Is Fundamental of Southern California.

And according to research conducted by the RAND Corporation, “The average student loses so much of what was initially learned that upon returning in the fall, he or she is—in terms of academic gains—one month behind where he or she left off in the spring.”

Ok, I’ll admit this sounds pretty grim. But fear not! Ensuring your kids don’t fall prey to summer slide is totally within your control.

For starters, join the Empowering Kids with Character Newsletter. When you do, you’ll receive a FREE Ultimate List of 100 Books that Teach Character. Because there’s no better way to promote literacy in the home and combat summer slide than by reading with your kids and encouraging them to read on their own.

Science Daily recently reported findings from a study in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics that found that young children whose parents read them five books a day enter kindergarten having heard about 1.4 million more words than kids who were never read to.

“Kids who hear more vocabulary words are going to be better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school,” said Logan, a member of Ohio State’s Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy. “They are likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily.”

In fact, it’s never too early to start reading with your kids. Board books are the perfect books for babies. Their stiff pages reinforce the concept of turning pages while their vibrant pictures captivate babies’ attention. I highly recommend Maria Dismondy’s board book, A Spoonful of Sweetness, that exposes babies to the concept of empathy and early literacy.

For older kids, it’s important to find ways to keep productivity and learning moving in a positive direction. So, come fall, your kids are picking up where they left off, or even a little bit ahead.

10 greats ways to prevent the summer slide:

  1. Create a reading area in your home, complete with sparkle lights and bright colored pillows.
  2. While at the zoo, give your child the map and let them hone their navigational skills while pointing out all the lions, tigers and bears. (Oh my!)
  3. Join the Empowering Kids with Character Newsletter and receive the FREE Ultimate List of 100 Books that Teach Character! See if you can read all the books together as a family before the summer ends.
  4. Make reading part of your daily routine. If your children are too old for naps, enact “quiet time” that involves screen-free down time and reading.
  5. Ask your child to write the story of their life. Provide paper, stickers, crayons, colored pencils and other fun inspiration to help bring their story to life.
  6. Play “Travel ABC” during your next road trip. Locate letters on billboards, license plates and street signs as you drive. Go through the entire alphabet with each family member taking a turn until you get to “Z”!
  7. Save cards and magazines. Use them as craft materials.
  8. Give your children a summer journal to document their adventures and all their thoughts, hopes and dreams along the way.
  9. Include your kids in grocery shopping and cooking. Ask your child to write the grocery list and read recipes together.
  10. Set an example by fostering YOUR love of reading along the way.

Are you concerned about the “summer slide” or have a great idea to help combat it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


Meg Keys is an award-winning advertising and marketing writer and the author of The Waiting Line – What to Do (and Not Do) When Someone You Love is Struggling with Infertility. She is fueled by her love of food, art and fluffy pets and lives in Metro Detroit with her husband and son. Find her at