Real Talk About Who Can Stop the “Summer Slide”: It’s Gonna be “May”

May is an odd little beast.

Just as we start anticipating the leisurely pace of summer, we’re busier than ever. Our kids are balancing their typical classwork while tackling standardized testing. At home, we’ve set a new low by scheduling 6 am calendar reminders to make sure we’re online in time to register for summer day camps and swimming lessons before those elusive slots are filled.

May is a time of frantic preparation. Parents can’t just enjoy the springtime gateway to warmer weather because we’re busy preparing for the months ahead.

And to heighten the angst and anxiety levels of moms everywhere, we know that we’re preparing for a window of time when experts tell us that our kids’ learning typically starts to sag.

Real Talk About Who Can Stop the “Summer Slide”: It’s Gonna be “May”

Summer slide is a real thing, and it’s the covert impetus behind our 6 am calendar reminders for registrations.

We all want our kids to be active participants in life. For many parents, that means scheduling our kiddos for camp activities, sports events, and church and summer classes.

All that pressure existed even before we were saddled with the pandemic. But for extra giggles, this year my mom friends and I were first bludgeoned last fall by news headlines already pointing to the “COVID slide.” 

Yes. Our students were showing symptoms of summer slide months earlier as an impact of the pandemic, they said, and our kids are behind academic benchmarks for their ages and grades.

I really value the benchmarks that the media are mentioning. As a mom, I want to know that educators have many tools available to ensure that they’re teaching in a way that helps our children learn.

No one wants to see lower academic achievement across an entire generation of young people.  And I agree that kids, as a whole, aren’t academically where they might typically be on these benchmarks.

But when it’s time to think about who’s going to right the ship and help get kids on track? I’m not waiting for next fall.

To quote our favorite NSYNCer, “It’s gonna be me.”

Real Talk About Who Can Stop the “Summer Slide”: It’s Gonna be “May”
Justin Timberlake via Tumblr

 

Despite the sad tale told by the media, our end goal is the same, friends. 

The way I see it, every single year our educators look at their classroom of cherubs and can still see the needs of every single child. Every year these magical professionals have to identify which gaps in their students’ skills need to be built up before moving forward.

And my job this summer, just like every summer, is to do my part in addressing the needs of my kids as tiny humans and as students. 

This is why we’re busy planning a summer for our kids and families. Beyond the camps and programs, summer is a time for our families to refocus on relationships and friendships. We need to feel the sun on our faces and refresh, explore, and reinvigorate. We can encourage our kids to read a bit each day and limit our screen time in favor of learning a new game. It’s all about learning and growth.

I trust that someday, our kids’ elementary school standardized scores will matter as little as the error they made in center field during last week’s baseball game.

Individually, those are just markers of opportunities for improvement: to coach, to build, to support.

What matters is how we are ensuring that these scores are just one of many measurements we use to help us keep it between the ditches. We all share in our desire to keep our kids on a traveled path that leads to a healthy, balanced future. 

Our kids’ teachers are already adjusting their game plans to focus on their short-term needs. I know my role is to partner with them today, and focus on the long game: raising well-rounded, thoughtful, considerate, and inquisitive adults.

And what better time to set a summer game plan than May?


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Renee holds three titles that are of utmost importance to her: mom to Cale and Ian; wife to Andy; and Communications Director for Grant Wood Area Education Agency. Although she has a Master’s degree from the University of Iowa, her heart still shines cardinal and gold for Iowa State University where she received her undergraduate degree. Renee’s a foodie who loves cooking, travel, her friends, her family, the Oxford comma, and happy hour. Cheers!