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How to help your students avoid the 'summer slide'

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Students across the state are inching toward summer break. For many of them, summer vacation means freedom from routine, bedtimes and class work. 

But studies show that the less they learn during the summer, the harder the transition back to school in the fall.  This period is what educators call "summer slide," or summer learning loss. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose about two months' worth of math skills. Low-income children lose about four or five months' progress in reading

Three educators joined host Angela Davis and shared ideas about what families can do to prevent summer slide.

Guests

• Jenny Wright Collins — executive director at the University YMCA and Beacons Network

• Leadriane Roby — assistant superintendent at Richfield Public Schools

• Jena Carlson — director of curriculum and instruction for Brooklyn Center Community Schools

Here are some tips they shared to help prevent 'summer slide':

• "Consider your child's unique needs and interests. Select a program that provides an enriching place to explore a spark or passion, and that can be flexible in accommodating any unique needs your child may have. If your child needs academic support, for example, seek a program that intentionally builds this into the programming," Wright Collins said.

• "Learn your local library and get to know the librarian who is in charge of youth and adolescence. There are books for everyone. And the one way to prevent summer slide is to keep your kid reading," Carlson said.

• "In your neighborhood, have a book club or book swap with neighborhood kids. Have the kids share what they liked the best in each book, or have them talk about the characters," Roby said.

• "Engage in card games and board games as a family or with neighbors, and sit down with those games. Board games are a great way to engage children, especially with younger kids," Carlson said.

• "Consider your family's needs. Of course considerations such as cost, location, time and convenience matter for today's busy families.  The Y and other nonprofits provide scholarships to help keep costs down for families that need it.  Remember to leave time in your week for activities you can all do together as a family," Wright Collins said.

• "Have a neighborhood game night. Kids don't know how to play four square or double dutch anymore. Kids should be engaging with other kids and moving their bodies," Roby said.

• "Don't forget the teens and young adults.  We often think of care for our youngest Minnesotans, but opportunities outside of school are critical for youth and young adults to stay connected to positive peers and adults, build leadership skills, and contribute to their communities.  The Y has Youth In Government, Beacons, Teen Thrive, a Campus Y, and so much more to explore," Wright Collins said.

• "Encourage your student to be curious about something and help them be curious all summer long. Lean into that curiosity and ask what they are learning and why they are interested in that specific thing," Carlson said.