Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Summer Learning Loss – the Summer Slide

Is Summer Learning Loss Real?

A research study in the American Educational Research Journal found that “the average student loses 17-34% of the prior year’s learning gains during summer break, as well as that students who lose ground in one summer are more likely to also lose ground in subsequent summers.” They also found that there was more substantial loss in math and reading. Read more about summer learning loss here from the Institute of Multi-Sensory Education.

How to Address Summer Learning Loss

  • Summer learning programs can be effective in helping prevent summer learning loss and closing achievement gaps.
  • Having access to books and encouraging summer reading is important in helping students gain in reading achievement, comprehension, writing style, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.
  • Journaling over the summer is a great way to not only capture memories, but also provide writing practice for students. Encouraging kids to write in their journal daily keeps their literacy skills fresh.
  • Another way to keep writing skills fresh is to encourage letter writing with a pen pal or distant relative.
  • For more targeted academic support, summer tutoring is very effective in helping students keep current and improve math and reading skills.

Summer Tutoring with TutorUp

All of our tutors are certified teachers and have a lot of flexibility in their summer schedules. If you’re interested in providing some weekly academic support for your student this summer, we have lots of options for you.

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

What’s Your Child’s Reading Level?

How You Can Help Your Child Become a Better Reader

There’s a lot of discussion about how kids have fallen behind in reading and need some help to get caught up. But how do you know which level your child is at? And how can you help match them to the right books at the right time to help them level up?

You can start with a conversation with your child’s teacher, who should be able to share your child’s reading level with you. Scholastic Books has put together a great list of books that are appropriate for different guided reading levels from Pre-K through Grade 3 and up. Some educators recommend choosing at-home books a level or two below the one your child reads at in school.

The Different Reading Level Ranges

Scholastic Books has their own Guided Reading Program Levels, and they also have Guided Reading Lexile Ranges. There are also the Common Core State Standards Lexile Ranges (CCSS), and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) levels. You can read more about the Lexile Framework for Reading here. The Lexile reader measure can range from below 200L for beginning readers to above 1600L for advanced readers.

The Five Finger Test

To choose books for your child that are the right level, you can have your child do the quick and easy Five Finger Test. Select a book your child wants to read, flip to a page in the middle of the book and ask your child to read the page out loud. Have your child hold up a finger for each word he is not sure of or does not know. If there are five or more words on that page, you should choose an easier book. You can use the five finger rule on two or more pages, just to make sure.

For help choosing books at your child’s reading level, Understood.org has a four step online guide for parents.

Online Reading Tests

There are a variety of online resources that offer reading assessment tests. These can be helpful in indicating a child’s reading level so parents can select appropriate books.

You Can Help

The important thing to keep in mind is that you can create a positive environment for your child that will help make reading fun and rewarding. While it’s helpful for you and your child’s teachers to know what your child’s reading level is, you should avoid using labels like “slow” reader or “reads below grade level”. You can be encouraging without communicating disappointment or concern that could make your child worry. Not every child is going to turn into an avid adult reader, but you can help make sure that your child has the reading capability they will need to be successful.

Reading Resources for Parents

Reading Resources for Parents

“Reading is the gateway skill that makes all other learning possible.”
— Barack Obama

Parents can have a significant impact on their children’s attitude about reading as well as their reading ability. Whether your student is an avid reader, excelling at or above their grade level, or your student is struggling with reading, there are lots of resources available to enrich their reading experience and improve their reading comprehension.

Reading is Fundamental

The RIF website is a goldmine of resources for teachers and parents with children of all ages. From grade-matched book recommendations and corresponding support materials, to Learn at Home resources, word games, puzzle creator and much more, there are helpful tools for all ages.

Reading Rockets

This is another feature-rich website for parents and teachers who want to improve the reading achievement of children. Reading Rockets has reading guides, videos, blogs, fun activities and more. You’ll find topics, booklists and authors, and recommendations for parents.

Literacy expert Timothy Shanahan has put together a list of 11 ways parents can help their children read. It’s a quick read and all of the tips are basic enough to help even the youngest of students. Bottom line, don’t leave the work to teachers and schools. Parents have a huge influence on their children’s attitude and ability to read and spending some time reading (and writing) with your child can make a big difference.

Scholastic Parents

Scholastic books offers a newsletter just for parents, book lists by age and category, reading resources, printables and activities, homework help and more.

Playing an active role in your child’s literary development is the best way to help them.

U.S. Department of Education

Ed.gov has a section with resources for parents who want to help their child read. You’ll find tips, guides, publications and more that are geared to parents.

National Center on Improving Literacy

Improving Literacy has resources for parents with proven methods to help their children with reading and writing. There are videos, resources, articles, experts who answer questions, and more.

For Students with ADHD or Dyslexia

Ways to Lift Up Lagging Readers offers ways to make reading less work and more fun for readers with difficulties like ADHD and dyslexia.

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

“Children Are Severely Behind in Reading” from the NY Times

The Pandemic Has Worsened the Reading Crisis in Schools

Dana Goldstein of the New York Times reported this week on the alarming “reading emergency” caused by the Covid pandemic and its severe impact on education in the United States.

Multiple studies are reporting that reading skills of younger students were at a 20-year low at the beginning of this school year. “Children in every demographic group have been affected, but Black and Hispanic children, as well as those from low-income families, those with disabilities and those who are not fluent in English have fallen the furthest behind.”

While it’s true that national tests have shown a stagnant or declining performance in reading for U.S. students since 2019, there is no denying that the pandemic has made all of this worse. Children spent months out of the classroom, and when they did return, they found less help than before the pandemic. A federal survey has shown that nearly half of all public schools have teaching vacancies, especially in special education and elementary grades.

Schools are now under pressure to boost literacy quickly to try to make up for the ground that has been lost. Billions in stimulus funds are going to schools for tutoring and other academic supports, but schools are still having trouble hiring quality staff.

Early on in the pandemic, research suggested that reading skills were holding steady while there was more concern about learning loss in math. Today the research is showing the opposite. Among the youngest students, many of whom spent their entire kindergarten year outside of school, the basics of reading have been lost.

As a result, some states like Mississippi, Alabama, and Massachusetts have begun retraining teachers in phonics. Individual and small-group tutoring is being funded by federal grants, however many educators are leaving the classroom for the more lucrative private reading and speech therapy industry. So even with the budget, schools are finding it difficult to hire experienced educators.

A new Stanford study finds that “reading fluency among second and third graders in the U.S. is roughly 30 percent behind what would be expected in a typical year.” While students are beginning to recoup the losses suffered when schools closed in 2020, it hasn’t been enough to make up for the gaps.

Many states paused academic assessment testing during the pandemic, so definitive numbers aren’t readily available but the evidence is compelling. Children who struggle with reading will be facing lifelong hurdles. What this means is that the critical time to address the problem is now, before more learning is lost.

reading statistics
Courtesty of Reading is Fundamental, Literacy Network

Private tutoring can bridge the gap

When struggling students are paired with experienced, trained, certified educators in a one-on-one private tutoring arrangement, reading improvement can be dramatic. Due to the shortage of experienced teachers in the schools, and the fact that teachers in the classroom have to divide their attention among dozens of students, the concentrated attention that students need in order to catch up is best achieved with quality tutoring.

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Study Tips for Kids (and Parents)

Help Your Student Establish Good Study Habits

The best way to help your student study is to share some tips, help them get started on implementing them, and then let them take it from there. Resist the inclination to step in and handle it every day when they come home from school with assignments or they need to study for a test. In the long run, the more you take over and direct, the less your student will actually learn how to study and get organized.

Setting Up for Success

Regardless of age, here are some basics that will help any student with studying and completing homework assignments.

  • Don’t try to jump right in to homework after school. Allow for a break and a snack first.
  • Designate a specific place as the study/homework station. And make sure it’s not on their bed, or in the same room as a TV that is on, or where people gather to socialize.
  • Institute a “no social media” policy during study time. Your student may need their phone, tablet, or computer to do their homework, so the temptation to check on social media will be harder to control, but it’s a huge time-waster and breaks concentration.
  • Take breaks. Your student can set specific break times (like every 30 minutes or once an hour) or just take a break at a natural stopping point, but using a timer will help keep the break short. 5-10 minutes is long enough. Longer than that could make your student lose their place and forget what they were working on.
  • Encourage some physical activity during break times, even if it’s just standing up and stretching.

Organizational Skills

Starting at about fourth or fifth grade, your student should have a day planner or assignment notebook they write in and keep track of every assignment, the date assigned, the due date, instructions and notes. Younger students may have handouts from the teacher with daily assignments or worksheets and don’t need the additional structure of keeping a calendar.

Train children at a young age to be sure to put all of their school papers, assignments, notes, worksheets, etc. in their backpack every day to bring home from school. Help them review and sort through these papers every day before starting homework. Don’t let the backpack become the Bermuda Triangle.

For schools that send homework, notices, schedules, etc. via email or posted online, be sure to check that right after school so you’re not surprised the next morning when your student says “I was supposed to do…” or “I’m supposed to bring…”

It might help (especially for older students) to have separate folders in different colors for each subject. And for note-taking, a matching spiral notebook for each subject. So if Math is blue, it’s easy to grab the blue folder and the blue spiral notebook to find all the info needed to complete assignments.

Another method of organizing would be a three-ring binder with pocket tabs for each subject, keeping everything in one notebook, organized by subject. This can get pretty big though, so your student might prefer the colored folder/notebook method.

Make sure that your student has all the necessary supplies in their backpack every day. Depending on age, pencils, pens, eraser, crayons, markers, highlighters, glue sticks, scissors, notebook, paper, index cards, calculator, tissues, wet wipes, hand sanitizer… you get the idea.

Study Tips

Success with homework and studying begins in school. It’s important that students learn early to pay attention, ask questions when they don’t understand something, take good notes, keep track of assignments and important dates, minimize distractions in class (like keeping their phones in their backpacks), and just take school seriously in general. This includes consistent attendance.

Goal setting –

Whether it’s a certain grade a student wants to achieve, or just mastering a single concept, it helps to have a goal to work toward. Maybe your third grader needs to memorize multiplication tables. Measure how long it takes to get one down, and then set goals accordingly. Breaking big goals into smaller, more easily achieved goals helps your student see how they are progressing.

Note taking –

It’s not possible (or recommended) to try to write down everything a teacher is saying. One way to help students learn how to jot down the important points, so they can review them later, is to have them watch a short video of someone lecturing on an interesting topic or explaining something or giving instructions. You watch the video with them and have them pick out the important things they might want to write down, while you take your own notes. Then you can compare notes and see if your student is on the right track. The best way to learn how to take good notes is to practice taking notes.

Demonstrating mastery –

A great way to help a student commit something to memory, and demonstrate that they have mastered a specific topic, or concept, is to have them teach/explain it to someone else. That could be you, or a sibling, or a classmate.

Study partner/study group –

Studying with a peer, or a group of peers, can be very useful as long as everyone takes it seriously. Of course, fun should also be had, but keep goals in mind when students work together. One way to help influence this is to host the studying at your house.

It’s okay to try different things to see what resonates with your student. And if you have more than one child you’re trying to help, keep in mind that everyone is different, and what works well for one child might not be helpful for another. Listen to your child and take their input into consideration when trying to help. Good study habits for students can last a lifetime, and translate into good work habits and help create responsible adults.