June 19, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

How to Beat the Summer Slide

Everyone remembers that feeling. It’s the second week of school, all of the welcome back stuff has ended, and now the teacher has gone into the actual lessons, and you can’t remember what you learned last year. You vaguely remember something, but by the time it comes back into focus, it’s close to Thanksgiving and you’re far behind the rest of the class. This is what’s known to experts as the summer slide.
The summer slide has been around as long as there have been breaks in schooling. Kids finish their work, have two to three months off, and want to get away from it all, and they do. They go to the beach, they run, they play, they forget it all. The problem with this is that they need that knowledge come September as they move up to the next grade.
There have been some efforts to alleviate the slip of young minds in recent years, with some schools shortening summers in exchange for more days off during the school year. Summers now start in mid to late June and end in late August, right before Labor Day. Labor Day was the harbinger of school beginning to most children in the early 2000s and before, but to modern kids it’s a brief respite from the disorientation of the first few weeks back. That said, shortening the summer doesn’t fix all the problems. Kids will forget what they’re taught without reinforcement. Typically the reinforcement that schools attempt to implement is summer reading.
For those who remember the summer reading lists as a child, they are still around today. However, with the increasingly easy way of accessing synopses online, kids have been able to for the most part get around having to actually read the book. Granted, this method isn’t foolproof, as often when a teacher orders an essay on the book they read, the child’s analysis will appear too detailed for their grade level, which outs them as cheating. However, this won’t last for long as the years go on. Kids get smarter by the year with an infinite knowledge well at their fingertips, so they will inevitably, and ironically, become smarter at avoiding knowledge.
However, there are organizations that are devoted to combating this, such as the Santa Monica Tutor Doctor. One of many offices in LA and across the country, tutors are dispatched to houses, and can be used to help kids practice their reading and math skills one-on-one. Some children flourish in the one-on-one format, as the experience can be tooled to the child’s specific needs. That said, to others it can feel patronizing. It varies from kid to kid it seems.
Whether or not a service like this is used, it’s important to continually practice the things learned during the school year, much like a muscle. If a college student has a summer between French 3 and French 4, not practicing their French in the months between is a one-way ticket to a failing grade come next fall.
“Even just fifteen minutes of math or writing a day, something to keep the skills sharp. Otherwise you’ll be back in the fall and swimming against the tide,” Said Nika Fouquet, an education consultant at Tutor Doctor. This is the philosophy behind summer reading, but it often isn’t appealing to children as it is basically negatively reinforced with a punishment that is months away. This, to a child, doesn’t matter.
It’s June now, the essay isn’t due until September, why should they care? Well, like most kids, a tangible reward is a good way to get them to practice. The Tutor Doctor offers a yearly contest wherein kids can send in essays on books from a list they provide. The students with the best essays are given a gift certificate for their efforts. If a kid has something to work for, a goal that isn’t the prospect of something bad happening, they will likely tackle it with more gusto than one who is under pressure of punishment.
The summer has only just begun, and the information learned hasn’t disappeared yet, so if parents and kids are quick, they should be able to preserve the mental muscle they worked so hard to build up. For more information on children, try talking to the one running around the house. For more information on the Tutor Doctor, you can visit their website at tutordoctor.com/santa-monica.

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