Summer Learning Program gives students a running start to new school year

Research shows that students achieve better when their parents are involved in their learning

It’s called the summer slide and despite our best attempts to prevent it, it happens, especially in reluctant readers.

Summer slide is the learning loss that occurs from the time students leave school in June until they return in September. For some children, the learning loss could mean a drop of several reading benchmark levels, putting them at a disadvantage when they return to school.

A Summer Learning Program offered at St. Ann Catholic Elementary School from July 2nd to July 22nd aimed at reducing learning loss through a variety of daily literacy and numeracy activities. The program provided four hours of daily literacy and numeracy instruction, using online tools such as Lexia and Success Maker to increase students’ reading and math proficiency.

The program, now in its sixth year, gives students a running jump on the new school year. Technology is a big part of the program, enabling teachers to reach students where they are most comfortable. Today that milieu is iPads and laptops and games. Technology is not only boosting students’ confidence but is helping them to become better and more engaged learners. The tools also make it possible for teachers to track their progress and development. Assessments, taken in June and September, provide a good measure of the program’s success.

As past programs have demonstrated, three weeks of targeted instruction during the summer does make a difference. Consistency is key to reading success. And while the Summer Learning Program may be limited to a select number of students, daily reading is a good practice for all students to heed, especially in the summer months when reading often takes a back seat to other activities. Parents can play an important role.

Research shows that students achieve better when their parents are involved in their learning. In the Summer Learning Program, each day began with a parent engagement session which included a parent read-aloud. Encouraging reading and reading aloud is something that all parents can do with their children–part of the Summer Learning Program or not–and not just in these final weeks before the start of school, but every day, all year long. “Children are made readers on the laps of their parents,” said Emilie Buchwald, suggesting that early routines become habits for life.

Various resources are available at your local school to support learning in the home and include online tools such as Success Maker Math, as well as parent workshops, Math For Breakfast, reading and running clubs, and an annual parent conference. You can learn more about these in the coming months through your school newsletter and on the HWCDSB website.

The Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board has also partnered with Telling Tales to raise awareness about the importance of literacy. Leading Canadian children’s authors will be in attendance at the 11th Annual Telling Tales Festival at Westfield Heritage Village in Rockton on September 15 to engage and entertain children through storytelling, illustrating and other activities. Details are posted on the Telling Tales website at

By inspiring a love of reading in children, we not only ensure that our children and youth get off to a running start but are laying the foundation for success in later life.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more than you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss

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