Avoid the Summer Slide: Keeping Kids Engaged in the Summer

LPOSD teachers and PAFE grants keep students engaged and avoid the summer slide

When Betsy Dalessio, assistant principal at Farmin Stidwell, asked her students what they plan to do this summer, most told her

“I don’t know… watch TV, play video games, go to the beach, play outside.”

There is certainly nothing wrong with kids taking a much-deserved break from their studies, but how long is too long? According to The National Summer Learning Association, the average American student loses an equivalence of two months of grade level math and science during vacation.

This phenomenon, sometimes referred to as the summer slide, can result in declines in math and reading ability, according to a report from the Brookings Institute.

Researchers also found that income-based reading gaps grew over the summer, given that middle-class students tended to show improvement in reading skills while lower-income students tended to experience loss.

For the academic year 2018/19, 42 percent of the LPOSD student population was on the free or reduced lunch program indicating a low socio-economic group. These students don’t necessarily have the opportunities to do things like go to coding camp and enroll in programs that keep their brains engaged over the summer.

LPOSD recognizes the need to prevent the summer slide among Sandpoint-area students and, thanks to teachers with tremendous initiative and PAFE’s grants, they can offer a few exciting no-cost programs such as:

Summer Reading at Kootenai Elementary School Library

STEM + READING enhances both

“By offering reading and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) together, we provide an exciting learning activity that children will choose to participate in during the summer,” said Kootenai Elementary School Librarian LeeAnn Kopsa. Combining engaging hands-on STEM options gets students more focused on traditional library activities and silent reading as well.

The Kootenai Elementary School Library will be open for two days each week this summer, and all Kootenai Elementary students are invited to attend Summer Reading, including new K through 6th students and their families. Ms. Kopsa and her team will offer special STEM programming with reading activities and books that complement the STEM focus. Students will be able to check out up to five books each day, and given a chance to win prizes for completed reading logs. Students who meet the summer goal of 3000 hours of combined reading will get the opportunity to vote on a stunt to be performed by the principal.

LPOSD Summer STEM Camp

“What I don’t hear when I ask students about their summer plans,” said Betsy, “I plan to build a drone and work on a coding system to fly it.” or “Assemble a robot from scratch and teach it to move.”

The Summer STEM camp is changing that for up to 120 participants at no cost to their families. The 21st Century Community Learning Center is holding two one-week Summer STEM camps at Farmin Stidwell open to all Farmin Stidwell and Kootenai Elementary students in grades 1-6. The LPOSD Summer STEM Camps will offer robotics, coding, maker spaces, and more, to provide a fun and challenging environment that encourages participants to solve problems, think logically, and instill in them the confidence to work together creatively in a lab setting. 

Avoid Summer Slide in Your Household

The best and most simple way is to read, read more, or read aloud to your child.

1000 Books Before Kindergarten

Reading to young children builds stronger relationships and early literacy skills. One in five children struggle with reading, but early literacy skills make learning to read easier. Angie Brass, early childhood literacy expert and PAFE’s Director of READY! for Kindergarten in partnership with the East Bonner County Library District, adopted and brought this program to Sandpoint, aptly named: 1000 Books before Kindergarten, encouraging parents to read 1000 books before Kindergarten.

Kids receive a book bag with friendly animal characters and then earn patches for the books they check out from the library.

TO REGISTER: Register online here or pick up a paper reading log from the Children’s Dept. at the Sandpoint Branch.

PAFE hopes that all LPOSD students have an enjoyable summer – one that allows students to relish time outside of their regular classrooms while maintaining their educational standing and staying prepared for the 2019-2020 school year to kick off.

What do your plans include?

You can learn more about getting involved in PAFE and supporting the programs that support education.