Plan For College

Friday, July 1, 2011

5 Ways to Avoid the Summer Slide

Rolling into the long July 4th weekend gives us a great opportunity to talk about the summer slide. Eric Clark of Quincy Tutoring and Lynne Anderson on eTextPrep shared this on the Quincy Tutoring blog. Eric was nice enough to allow us to post it for our readers. 

Aaahhh – that wonderful feeling when the final bell rings and students dismiss for 12 long weeks of summer fun. This temporary calm typically starts immediately after Memorial Day, when parents and kids alike take a “forget-about-it” attitude toward all things school. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
Maybe not. The truth is, the long summer break enjoyed by most kids can wreak havoc on a student’s academic development.  Just like an athlete loses some of their skills after taking three months off, students who do not, or cannot reinforce reading, vocabulary and math skills over the summer, start the next school year off at a deficit.
It’s called the Summer Slide and research shows it’s painfully real, and the effects are dramatic. This is especially bad news for high school students who have a lot riding on fall term grades and upcoming SATs, ACTs and APs.
Consider the facts.
All young people experience learning losses – and up to 2 to 3 months of reading proficiency loss — when they don’t engage in educational activities during the summer (
Struggling learners score significantly higher on standardized tests taken at the beginning of summer vacation, than they do on the same tests taken at summer’s end (International Reading Association).
It’s common for teachers to spend about a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer (
Summer Slide Solutions
Make no mistake, as a working mom of four, I believe students – and parents – deserve a break.  It’s good for the body and therefore good for the mind to catch up on sleep, relax, have some fun and stress less. Still, there are several excellent tools out there to help students keep their brain in the game, and even get a jumpstart on upcoming courses.
  • Read. Read for pleasure, read the paper, read your Kindle. Two-thirds of the SAT and three sections of the ACT are language-based. A very good teacher friend I know tells her students that the SAT is essentially a vocabulary test – those who read well, score better.
  • Try a new twist on text messages. eTextPrep, our new SMS service for students that uses texting to teach, sends SAT, ACT, AP and even Middle School Challenge vocabulary words, definitions and parts of speech directly to students’ cell phones. eTextPrep offers 10 different learning programs including an SAT/ACT Vocab Prep and subscriptions for eight Advanced Placement courses, with more scheduled to come on line this summer. With teens, eTextPrep took the “if you can’t beat them, join them…” approach to texting and learning.
  • Enroll your student in a summer enrichment program. Without the dread of getting up and out the door at dawn, summer tutoring and prep programs keep the mind sharp. They also give your student an edge on challenging courses and college admissions tests slated for the next school year.
  • Keep summer vacations, well… vacations, but use them as an educational experience too.  Museums, historical sites, and points of interest can be researched online before your departure and serve as a fantastic “aha moment” for learning.
  • Most importantly, encourage your student to do something educational – anything – for 20 minutes every day. They don’t need to write the great American novel, but even a few math games on the computer or a NYT crossword puzzle will help keep the mind moving. Considering what experts know now about the summer slide, students really do lose it, if they don’t use it.
 So keep this in mind high school students and parents! Have a great weekend, but don't let those brains go to mush. Also, make sure to stay on track with the college planning timeline:


  1. Thanks for sharing this! My friend's sister has been struggled with some of her subjects this year so I directed him towards some tutoring in San Diego so she could keep her brain busy. She has been doing good so far, and I hope it transfers to the classroom.