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Stopping Students' "Summer Slide" on Summer Learning Day

Interactive summer learning programs can help children stay engaged while also combatting "summer slide." (Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)
Interactive summer learning programs can help children stay engaged while also combatting "summer slide." (Mario Villafuerte/Getty Images)
July 13, 2017

CENTRALIA, Wash. — Today is Summer Learning Day, a day that brings awareness to the issue of the "summer slide” that students experience in academics while they are out of school.

The slump is especially severe for students who come from low income families who often don't have the resources to put their kids in summer programs. Cortney Smith is a coordinator for a summer program at Centralia Middle School. Today, she will host legislators in partnership with the organization School's Out Washington to show off the opportunities her program is offering students.

"They're engaged and having fun,” Smith said, "but they're also learning a lot and getting to do things they usually would not get to do, like 3-D prints, field trips. Things like that."

Smith said last week the kids visited a vocational skill center in Tumwater, and next week they are traveling to the Museum of Flight in Seattle. According to researchers, more than half of the achievement gap between low income and high income students can be attributed to unequal access to summer learning programs.

Nicole Stein is vice president for corporate responsibility at Umpqua Bank, which has made summer learning one of its primary causes. Stein said the summer slide affects every child.

"Regardless of income level, all kids experience some amount of summer learning loss," Stein said. "And so all families, parents, caregivers have the opportunity to infuse those moments of learning throughout their regular day, throughout the course of activities such as a family vacation.”

Umpqua Bank has a summer learning activity sheet on its website aimed at helping kids' math and reading skills in ways that can be included in summer activities.

Stein said Umpqua Bank has found many ways to support summer learning programs in the Northwest, and even gives employees 40 hours of paid volunteer time off each year, most of which is used to help kids during the summer.

"Whether that be our giving dollars, the dollars that we're able to give to the community, our people power, so the ways that our employees are able to volunteer in their communities, or things like our social media presence and voice, [we] find ways to really share the issue and then share solutions,” Stein said.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - WA