Summer Slide

Educational research tells us time and time again that the students experience a “summer slide” in learning during the summer school break. Our School Program Coordinator, Liz Philippi, shares some tips on how to address summer slide this summer!

What is “summer slide”?

It is the tendency for children to lose some of the achievement gains they made during the previous school year. It is estimated that teachers spend between 4 to 6 weeks reteaching materials that students forget during the summer. While we constantly battle to make sure that all students can read on grade level this “reteaching” is a terrible waste!

What can we do to correct this?

Well, the first suggestion is that we should make sure that children are reading during the summer whether they are at their local library, in a school library that is open during school summer breakfast and lunch times, or even accessing books online they need to be exposed to books.

The other things we need to do is to keep those young brains engaged with a variety of activities that will challenge them and ignite their innate curiosity. There are many simple things you can do, like reading product ingredients and measuring produce with your child when grocery shopping. Use cooking with your child as an opportunity to teach them about measuring and math skills. Take a nature walk in your local park or your neighborhood to teach plant and fauna information. Sometimes just looking around your house will help you come up with ideas to get and keep your children engaged, and an engaged mind is growing mind!

Below are some tips to get you started and a bunch of links that you can share with your patrons.


6 Ways to Use Reading to Prevent Summer Slide

The Importance of Summer Reading

10 Critical Facts About Summer Reading

Summer Reading: English Language Learners at the Library

Camp Wonderoplis

Summer Reading with Book It!

Reading is Fundamental

Start with a Book

Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge

Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Program

Half Price Book Summer Reading Program

Summer Booklists from Reading Rockets

We Need Diverse Books

Summer Reading Booklists from ALSC

AASL Summer Reading Resources

YALSA Summer Reading and Learning

Close the Homework Gap with a local Wi-Fi Map

The Homework Gap”

If you haven’t heard the phrase before, it refers to the fact that so many school-age children must now rely on Internet access to complete their homework. Even though access is provided within the school grounds, once the school day ends, homework can’t be completed by students with no Internet at home. There’s literally a disconnect between what’s expected and what they are actually capable of. These students are seriously disadvantaged and fall dangerously behind.  To illustrate this growing problem, watch this entertaining video:

The best solution for schools and public libraries is to check out Wi-Fi hotspots (See our post for more info). If you’re a school district, you can also put Wi-Fi on your school buses or even install Wi-Fi kiosks throughout your community.

But sometimes checking out hotspots is either not feasible (due to funding or network availability), or it is feasible, but demand is too high with many students left out and unable to take advantage of the service.  That’s why schools are trying out an additional solution: Community Wi-Fi maps and decals.

Maps & Decals

The homework gap can be further closed by leveraging the existing free Wi-Fi in the area.  Schools can reach out and partner with local businesses who become powerful allies, offering to share their Wi-Fi so students can complete their schoolwork. Or if the businesses don’t have Wi-Fi to share, schools can provide them hotspots to use for maximum benefit.  Maybe not every student without access at home can check out their own personal hotspot. But with this solution, they can go to places in town with a school-purchased hotspot or already free Wi-Fi in place. 

It then behooves schools to make their students aware of these safe spaces in the community to utilize this approved Internet access.   Businesses are asked to display a decal, usually with the school’s branding, that signals to students it’s a good place for homework to be completed. 

Decal example
Example of Decal (Source)

Then, using existing free Google Maps tools, schools can pinpoint exactly where these approved Wi-Fi spots are in their communities. By embedding the map on their web pages, it becomes easily shareable via mobile device. Students can then navigate to the most convenient safe space when needed.

Texas is on the map for being one of a few states with school districts creating community Wi-Fi maps and decals, and even supplying businesses the Wi-Fi hotspots to make it happen and help close the Gap. 

Here are a few examples I found:

1) El Paso ISD (El Paso, TX)

Map: Free WiFi sites in the El Paso TX area

Screenshot of El Paso ISD web page showing WiFi map

2) Weatherford ISD (Weatherford, TX)

 Wi-Fi “HopSpots” Program (their mascot is a kangaroo – get it?)

Weatherford’s HopSpot Decal

3) San Marcos ISD (San Marcos, TX)

News article and video from 8/27/2018: San Marcos CISD students encouraged to use WiFi at local businesses

Video of news report
Decal for local businesses
Photo of decal being applied

OK, but what about Public Libraries?

Public libraries need to be part of this community partnership if they aren’t already!  They need to ensure they are included on any local Wi-Fi maps and are displaying the decals their school districts are creating. Or, if map and decals don’t exist, they should make them!

Public libraries should be the first place schools partner with to help address the homework gap problem. Not only do they provide free Internet as part of their mission, they also have supportive staff available to assist students.   

Photo of Marathon Public Library's Internet sign
Sign in front of Marathon Public Library (Marathon, TX)

(And one is never obligated to buy anything like in a coffee shop or fast food place.)

Further reading