Summer is here and school is out, and children like to go on water slides. But there is a different slide that can cause academic difficulties, especially with children with learning disabilities. That is called the “Summer Slide” or the time the children lose from their learning.
The summer slide can create a negative impact on children, in general, by breaking the rhythm of instruction which ultimately leads to forgetting. This unfortunately requires a significant amount of review when the child returns to school in the fall. This can be devastating to children with special needs.
Dr. Harris Cooper, a distinguished professor of neuropsychology at Duke University, conducted a research synthesis in 1996 integrating 39 studies on how the effects of summer vacation on standardized achievement test scores. Thirteen of the 39 studies were included in a meta-analysis which is a statistical integration of the results. It was found that procedural knowledge such as math computation and spelling was affected more than conceptual knowledge such as math concepts, problem solving and reading comprehension. Summer loss was more pronounced for math than reading. His studies suggested having an extended school year, attendance at summer school, and modified school calendars, which would decrease the length of time between studies.
Suggestions made to combat reading regression during the summer slide, according to Christine Casatelli from Nova Education, would be reading with the whole family, aligning said reading with the school curriculum, maximizing participation, and offering a wide assortment of books. The Alliance for Healthier Generation suggests a few hours of enrichment a week. Melissa Ferry, a special education teacher writing for the Friendship Circle suggests limited screen time, playing educational games, encouraging exploration and adventure, allowing a child to be bored and not overstimulated, practical application of academic skills, and travel.
It is important for your special needs child to continue with their multisensory tutoring throughout the summer vacation so that they do not regress to a level much lower than they were when the summer began.