Stopping the Summer Slide

Summer is the perfect time for students of all ages to relax, but it’s also a time when summer learning loss can occur. This learning loss is called the “summer slide,” and happens when children do not engage in educational activities during the summer months.

Let's Read Event

Members of the Washington Kastles get kids moving during the Department of Education’s annual Let’s Read, Let’s Move event. The events focus on keeping children’s minds and bodies active during the summer.

While summer vacation is months away, many parents are starting to plan for summer now. As you’re thinking about your plans for the upcoming summer break, we’ve gathered a few ideas and activities that you and your children – no matter their ages – can complete throughout the summer.

For Elementary and Middle School Students:

  • Parents of younger students can create a summer reading list with their children, and then reward them when they finish each book.
  • Additionally, parents can encourage their kids to think outside of the box with arts and crafts. Sites such as and NGA Kids have great ideas that will let any child’s imagination run wild and stimulate creativity.
  • Summertime can be a great time to teach healthy eating habits. Parents can get ideas for tasty and nutritious meals at Let’s Move! and There is also information available about the USDA Summer Food Program, which was established to ensure that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session.

For High School Students:

  • Summer can be the perfect time for high school-aged children to prepare for college, and setting aside at least one day a week to keep math and science skills fresh is an excellent way to start off the summer. Local libraries are an excellent place to find books full of practice problems – and they’re quiet and often air-conditioned too!
  • Summer is also a good time to sit down and discuss financial aid and other expenses. Our Office of Federal Student Aid has prepared checklists geared toward students of all ages.
  • Many high school students might also want to take the time to start developing their professional resumes. Finding a part-time job can help students gain valuable experience and line their pockets with a bit of extra cash.  Visit for more information.
  • Volunteering is also an option. Youth-oriented summer camps, local museums, animal shelters and, of course, libraries are often looking for extra help during warmer months. This experience is not only valuable for personal and professional development, but it often looks good on college applications. Find opportunities at

Share your own summer tips and resources with the hashtag #SummerSuccess on Twitter, and look for more information from the U.S. Department of Education in the coming months as we count down to Summer Learning Day on Friday, June 20.

Dorothy Amatucci is a new media analyst in the Office of Communications and Outreach


  1. Camp and youth development agencies also offer intentional programs that can replace “summer slide” with “summer gain” Camps affiliated with American Camp Association, a leading authority in youth development, strive to offer lessons in community, leadership, nature, character building, skill development and healthy living. Visit for research on the significance of the camp experience.

  2. Mr. Krashen is correct. Rewarding the child after each book read is likely to decrease their motivation to read. It’s a basic function of motivation; as external rewards/motivation increases, internal motivation decreases.

  3. “Parents of younger students can create a summer reading list with their children, and then reward them when they finish each book.”
    Please read the professional research. Yes, summer reading is great, but rewards will take the pleasure away, and have the danger of turning young people off to reading. What works: Make sure interesting reading material is available. This means greater support for public libraries. The original study on the summer slump, done by Mary Heyns in 1975 showed that young people who lived closer to libraries read more over the summer and made better gains in reading achievement.
    See also: Alfie Kohn, Punished by Rewards; S. Krashen, The Power of Reading, F. Shin and S. Krashen, Summer Reading: Program and Evidence.

  4. These programs seem necessary and important. Who will be monitoring the participation of children of each program and who will be promoting the programs.?
    With everything so huge and spread out, it is hard to follow how these programs are administered.
    Thank you,
    Barbara Yoffee

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