For decades, studies have warned of “summer slide,” the educational loss that accrues during the months of summer when students are out of school. Research shows that most students typically lose the equivalent of one month of education each year due to summer losses.
And summer slide doesn’t affect all students equally; low-income students consistently fall farther behind during summer months, and it’s no secret why. Programs and camps that keep youth engaged and learning during the summer are often prohibitively expensive. In fact, by the time students hit ninth grade, summer learning loss is responsible for two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income students and their middle-income peers, according to a John Hopkins study.
On July 12th, students and communities across the country celebrated National Summer Learning Day, meant to prevent “summer slide” by promoting learning opportunities and health for young people while they aren’t in school.
Led by the National Summer Learning Association, an Alliance partner, National Summer Learning Day works to combat these effects by raising awareness of the importance of summer education, engaging young people in fun summer learning activities, and promoting healthy, active behaviors.
This year’s event featured 929 events in 46 states that served nearly 650,000 young people. Here’s how three of those communities across the country celebrated National Summer Learning Day.
Dayton, Ohio Promoted Reading and Literacy
The Greater Dayton Regional Transit Authority (RTA) hosted a Summer Learning Day event at a local park aiming to promote summer literacy. The event featured free book giveaways, mini RTA buses with dress up clothes and props, a petting zoo of birds, reptiles, and other animals, and a special appearance by the local ice cream truck.
The event showcased fun, hands-on learning, as families and children held and played with animals to learn about them.
This Summer Learning Day event worked in conjunction with Dayton’s annual Read on RTA summer initiative, which encourages youth to read by setting up book giveaways at local transit centers during the summer months.
Syracuse, New York Encouraged Hands-On Activities
Nearly 3000 children and parents attended the Summer Learning Day event in Syracuse, organized by the Literacy Coalition and WCNY. With 40 community partner organizations also in attendance, the day featured face painting, arts and crafts, beach-themed fun, plenty of free books, and a special guest appearance by PBS character Daniel Tiger.
As with similar events across the country, organizers focused on experiential, hands-on activities to pair learning with fun and keep kids active. Children played with homemade slime, built puzzles, tested out CPR on mannequins, and hoola hooped throughout the day.
Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania Got Students Out of the Classroom
Across Allentown, the school district partnered with vendors to provide summer enrichment activities with an emphasis on experiential learning.
At Roosevelt Elementary, organizers set up a festive environment, covering the school with balloons and bubbles. For students in summer school, the afternoon was reserved for more entertaining, experiential learning activities: field trips, art classes, and more.
“Our kids are having fun and they’re learning at the same time and they don’t even realize it,” said Erin Martin, the principal of Roosevelt Elementary School told local news outlet WFMZ-TV.
With a few weeks left of summer, here are some ideas from the National Summer Learning Association for helping young people in your home and community stay on track for the coming school year.