Sharing Ideas For Preventing Summer Slide

Summer? Are we talking about that already?! Believe it or not, many schools have just a few short weeks left of this school year. I am already getting questions from fans on my own page, The Literacy Nest, for names of programs to use with struggling readers over the summer. Today, I'll share a few ideas and programs, but I want to open this post to you, the readers, in hopes that you'll share some of your own strategies. First, let's talk about summer slide.

We as teachers and parents are all too familiar with the effects of summer slide on our students. Having two months or longer off from school can be rejuvenating in many ways, but for struggling readers, it may cause regression.
An article from Study Clerk: "Experts agree that children who read during the summer gain reading skills, while those who do not often slide backward. According to the authors of a report from the National Summer Learning Association: "A conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year.... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills."


Consider that loss of learning time for the struggling reader and you have some catching up to do when a new school year begins. It's a common cry for many educators out there. When the Fall returns, there's a great deal of reteaching going on in many classrooms.
There are several solutions to this problem, but some may be costly. Throughout my teaching career, I've taught in two very different socioeconomic backgrounds. I've worked with the students whose parents can afford a private tutor for the summer, and others who've been mandated to attended summer school. Certainly a private tutor is a wonderful way to help a child overcome summer slide, but it isn't always accessible or affordable.

We as educators can start looking now to see which children are going to need that little extra help and motivation to keep the learning going all summer long, but in a fun and engaging way.

Here are some ideas:

1. Most local libraries will host a summer reading challenge for city or town residents. Invite the local librarian into your classroom to do a special talk about summer reading and any special incentives going on for those participants. This worked well with my own students each year.

2. Some school hands out summer reading lists. Here's my twist:  If you were a student in my class, I sent you off with a list of book recommendations that we created together in class. Every child shared their recommendations. Then, I typed up a list of nearly 50 books and gave everyone a copy. The class summer reading list was always a big hit in my room because it came from peer suggested books, not adults. But I was sure to add in my own book suggestions too. :)

3. Another item I sent home with my kiddos on the last day was an envelope or blank postcard with the school address on it and a stamp for them to write to me over the summer. I would receive quite a few back and was always so pleased to receive them. If I couldn't be there with each child and see them keeping a summer journal, I was sure going to encourage it!

4. Send a special class newsletter to parents with educational websites and apps for children to use. Instead of just focusing on technology, include places for kids to read and enjoy a good book outside (on a front porch, in a beach chair, on a hammock, a park bench, in a tree house, resting against a tree.) Maybe create a class photo collage of kids posing in their favorite reading spots.

5. Summer reading incentives work for many families. I encourage offering constructive and reasonable ones. Several years ago, I actually found a summer reading list I had created at the age of seven . Don't ask me why I still have it! Anyway, when I finished reading a certain amount of books agreed upon, I was rewarded with a Barbie doll I had eyed in the toy store. So during the summer, it may be just the thing to offer a child a trip to the movies or local ice cream parlor for creating a summer reading goal and sticking with it.


 If you do have the funds to purchase a program to use with students or your own children this summer, and are looking for something more structured, here are four suggestions:

1. Raz Kids If you're familiar with Reading A-Z, you may have heard of Raz Kids. This interactive version has great mobile features and reading incentives. Teachers can track progress while students practice fluency and reading comprehension skills. This is suitable for students K-5.
2. Lexia Core 5 is a comprehensive program for the struggling reader. Addressing 6 areas of reading instruction, it encourages student led-learning by letting children work at their own pace.
3. Snap! Learning has a new online program that I reviewed and used with several students several months ago. The stories we read on my mobile device were high interest, had an audio feature, a fluency check-up and comprehension questions.  There are leveled readers and passages and lessons for close reading.
4. Headsprout This is a program that's new to me, but looks like another great online reading resource. There are fluency, phonics and reading comprehension programs for K-2 and 3-5

Now it's time to join the conversation! Please comment with your best tips, links and ideas for preventing summer slide. Let's keep the conversation going among our fellow educators and teacher bloggers too. You're invited to stop by my blog where I'll share more resources this summer. Good luck with the rest of your school year. I'm looking forward to hearing from you!

photo source:


  1. I love the idea of pro actively tackling the summer slide. Having children make book recommendations for their classmates is fabulous - I will definitely be doing that!

    My suggestion would be getting touch with bookshops to see if they have any authors visiting to read their books aloud. I know that here in Glasgow that happens fairly frequently in the larger book stores and children LOVE meeting authors/illustrators and hearing them read. (I enjoy it too!)

    Thanks for sharing your great ideas,


    1. Emily here: Great idea to get bookstores involved! In the town I taught in, they hosted a book fair and author visits. Thanks for chiming into the conversation!

  2. As the volunteer literacy initiative coordinator at my school, I am responsible for a monthly article in my principal's newsletter! This post is full of great information that I will share with our families in hopes that they will continue helping their child READ TO SUCCEED over the summer!

    Thank you so much for sharing such great ideas and resources!


    1. Wow Jennifer! You sound like you have an awesome job getting the word out to families! I'm so glad you found the post useful. Thanks again! -Emily

  3. Our public libraries have free summer reading programs with pages to track, prizes, rewards, etc. Plus they do a lot of story time type things with animals from the SPCA, etc. Check it out in your area!

    1. YES, our library is great as well. Many of them are excellent resources to keep up those skills!

    2. I love when the libraries bring in furry friends to read to. It's very popular in MA. Thanks for sharing! -Emily

  4. What great ideas! Our district purchased Raz-Kids for all of the teachers, so I am going to remind them to use it over the summer for their students.

    Our summer school model has been revamped to help with summer slide. Instead of three weeks in July, we have six weeks of summer school when students come two days a week. Those who need the most reading intervention receive one-on-one tutoring sessions those two days. We send home a packet with a book, activities, and games to play over the course of the rest of the week. It was very successful last year, and we had very few who "slid" over the summer. The only students who did slide were the students with poor attendance. The teachers loved the model too. I can't wait to see how it goes again this year!

    Reading Toward the Stars

    1. I love how proactive your school is about summer slide! Sounds like it's really paying off too. I think we need to really get creative with our summer school models and yours is a great way to do just that. Thanks for joining the conversation! -Emily

  5. Our school wide summer reading program ends with a Barnes and Noble story time party with games and prizes at the beginning of the next school year for anybody who returns their summer reading packet. Kids wear their pajamas and there is usually a local author who comes and reads to the kids. Lots of fun!

    I really like the idea of a peer recommended book list. I'm going to implement it this year. Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

    1. I'm so glad! The peer book list really is a big hit. When it's all typed up and looking official, kids really take ownership over it. This can work in so many grade levels too. Thanks for sharing! -Emily

  6. Thank you for all of the great ideas! That graph needs to be shared with EVERY parent!

    Searching for Teacher Balance

    1. I agree Marcy! It has a bit of shock value to it but also a nice little wake up call to families. Thanks for reading my post! -Emily

  7. Thanks for sharing! I actually just wrote about this too, at BigTime Literacy!

    1. I'll be sure to check it out! Thanks for sharing Michelle! -Emily

  8. I'm planning to do a "book swap" the last week of school. Students can bring in a book or 2 that they no longer read and trade with their classmates to have new reading material for the summer. For those that do not have a book to bring in, I will throw in a few I have collected through Scholastic Bonus Points.

    Has anyone ever tried this? How did it work? This will be my first time, so I'd love any ideas/suggestions!

    A Very Curious Class

    1. Hi Amanda,
      We just held our Book Swap in February. We had a box or two of extra books to start off. Students brought their book donations in advance and were given a coupon with the number of books they could choose. I would also suggest that you set some guidelines so that the books students donate will be quality reading materials. In the past, we have had a number of coloring books, baby books, damaged books donated. Here is the wording that we used in our letter to parents to prevent that from happening:

      Please choose books for donation carefully. Donated books will be accepted under the following guidelines:
      Books should be age appropriate. For example, a third grader should bring books that would be interesting to another third grader.
      Books should be in good condition. Covers should be in tact and there should be minimal damage.
      Books should be free of writing or scribbling.
      Coloring books, activity books, sticker books, and books from kids’ meals will not be accepted.

      Feel free to contact me with any questions you have or if you would like a copy of the coupons we used. Best of luck with your event! I'm sure it will be a great success!
      Read With Me ABC

  9. Great ideas and information, thanks!

    1. Thank you Brenda! I'm so glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by Literacy Land! -Emily

  10. Replies
    1. Thank you so much Brandee! I hope you'll pass it along to a friend. :) -Emily