Preventing “Summer Slide”

Julia Boxler Guest blogger, Julia Boxler leads youth programs at all 27 branches of Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL). Boxler coordinates programming for special needs and struggling readers, homework centers and summer reading and summer camps. She has established best practices for three major age ranges of youth services within CCPL.

Practice makes perfect, but what happens when we get out of practice? Whether it’s sports, reading or math, without practice your skills can become rusty. You may even end up needing to learn the skill all over again.

In summer, approximately half of all students essentially “take a break” from learning and as a result, lose many skills they learned during the school year, called learning loss or “summer slide.”

According to Dr. Harris Cooper, a Duke University psychology and neuroscience professor and expert in summer learning, students may forget between one to three months of learning during summer vacation. Think of it this way, if summer vacation equals three months of learning lost, then from first to sixth grade, a student can lose up to 18 months of their skills.

Summer slide is a very real and alarming phenomenon. Cuyahoga County Public Library (CCPL) is committed to help students and their parents combat summer learning loss by giving them free access to enriching, education-based and incentivized reading programs.

Summer reading programs are a long-standing public library tradition to encourage kids to keep their reading skills sharp by spending a portion of their summer vacation with books. Every summer, CCPL offers an easy-to-play summer reading program. Participants earn prize incentives by checking out books and tracking their reading.

CCPL’s summer reading program, “Get into the Game: Read” runs from June 4 – August 6. Learn more and register your family online or at your local branch.

Even a modest amount of reading can go a long way. In fact, research shows the amount of summer reading is a predictor of a student’s summer learning loss or gain. Good news for students: you don’t have to spend the entire summer with your head in a book in order to see a benefit. Reading just 15-20 minutes daily can make a BIG difference!

Participation in summer reading programs is an excellent way to encourage your child to read daily and prevent summer slide, but what else can parents do? Well, experts in youth education and cognitive development like Dr. Cooper offer these helpful tips.

  1. Engage kids in fun and educational activities. Register your child for CCPL’s free summer camps and youth education programs. Our camps and programs for students of all ages provide opportunities to practice math and reading, and learn new skills such as engineering, songwriting, computer coding and more.
  2. Make frequent trips to your local library for recreational reading throughout the summer. CCPL has various events and activities for families. Find an event near you.
  3. Encourage pleasure reading. Reading for pleasure will fuel your child’s love of reading. Let your child choose the books they read because they are more likely to enjoy reading books they select than those selected for them by an adult.
  4. Set reading goals for your child. It can be 15 minutes or an hour of reading per day — setting goals will keep you and your child on task and give you both a sense of accomplishment. Don’t forget to praise or reward your child when they reach a goal; encouragement from parents is an important factor in your child becoming a proficient, lifelong reader.

United Way of Greater Cleveland’s literacy campaign provides tips and advice for local parents with the goal of helping to advance their child’s grade-level reading skills. Funding for the literacy campaign was provided by Red Nose Day USA – a $23 million campaign to address children’s issues in the United States and 14 other countries. For additional tips for reading with your child, visit or text LITERACY to 51555.

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