STOP literacy slide.

child-for summer slideIn a few days’ time, 1,000 Year 4 learners and 56 teachers will be embarking on an evaluation programme of the News-O-Matic app. Apart from providing the opportunity to sit down and read a book, this App provides an opportunity for its user to engage oneself in an interactive process which aims to improve literacy.

The Directorate for Digital Literacy and Transversal Skills (DDLTS) will be launching this app (as a pilot) just before the summer holidays to give an opportunity to our young learners to engage in literacy. I will be writing in greater detail about this app in the next article as the DDLTS launches the app. In today’s blog, I would like to give a brief review of the infamous ‘summer slide’.

What is summer slide? Summer literacy slide, or literacy loss, is usually described as the tendency for students to lose some of the gains they made during the previous school year. Reading loss over the summer is a consequence of the young learner’s involvement in many other activities (or much of the same thing). As a result, they read fewer books, if any at all. Therefore, when they are back in school in September, there is actually a marked dip in their reading level. Some studies show that this dip can be as significant as a two-month loss. This looks scary but why does it happen? Well, children are children and I guess they are still the same as when I was younger by 50 years; I just wanted to play outside! Playing outside is a good thing, but if it is the only thing you do all day long and not having any time where you can just sit down, relax and open up a book, then that can be problematic.

TV can also be another issue and it is quite difficult to qualify how much TV is too much for a child. I would say that this is a decision which a family must responsibly take. Sitting in front of the TV and not doing anything else is just as bad as being outside playing all day long, if not worse. Whatever the day is like for our children, it must include reading. Otherwise, they are going to experience summer reading loss.

So summer freedom can come at a price. Students can lose months of reading and this also applies to mathematical competence, as in the following school year, teachers may have to spend 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching the lost concepts.

Parents need to intellectually challenge children during the holidays. Summer slide can be prevented, it takes only 20 to 30 minutes per day and here is how it can be done:

  • Have the children pick out books that interest them. I started reading comics. The Beano was my favourite. I remember moving on to the World of Wonder, which opened up the reading world to me. Studies show that when students read at least four books over the summer, they avoid reading loses.
  • Encourage the child to spend at least 15 minutes a day reading, writing, drawing, taking pictures and publishing using the tablet. I hope that News-O-Matic will be a booster here. Also, if the English supplementary reading scheme tender is successfully concluded during the coming weeks, all the tablet holders will gain from numerous books that will be available online during the summer.
  • Take learning online. There are many free websites that help a child to practise mathematical skills or hone their reading skills. We will be putting some great lessons on the tablets for the summer vacation just as we did for the Christmas break.

 Image labelled for noncommercial reuse.


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