Summer is here and there's an opportunity to make a real difference for kids in your life and broader community.
Summer learning loss, or the summer slide, is when a child loses academic ground during the summer, time that teachers then must spend re-teaching in the fall, which isn't good for the kids, teachers or the community.
Why we're involved - and want you to be, too
All kids, regardless of income level, experience some amount of academic loss from the end of one school year to the start of the next. But a staggering 80% of children from low income families lose more than two months of reading skills that they don't gain back, putting them nearly three years behind peers with higher incomes by the end of the fifth grade. Researchers also credit two-thirds of the achievement gap between lower and higher income youth to unequal access to summer learning opportunities.
We believe that education is the clearest path to personal economic success and know that those in poverty often struggle to receive equal access to the educational tools that help them stay on that path. The Summer Slide, and its disproportionate effect on low-income students, is an issue that's at the intersection of these beliefs.
A problem with a solution
The good news is that the Summer Slide can be stopped - and unlike some problems that seem bigger than ourselves, each of us can play a role. Of course, the best option is to have children in a regular program that balances academic and enrichment activities and provides food, but that's not always realistic. As members of the community, there are many ways for each of us to tap into enhanced programming for kids. There are also ways to have an impact individually.
A book, a hike, a trip
Consider the immediate circle of kids in your life whether they're your own kids or grandkids, nieces, nephews or neighbors. Is there a way to add something special to their summers this year? Here are a few ideas that are both fun and educational:
- Maybe a trip to a museum or an outing to pick berries at a local farm. Or choose a book you can each read independently and then meet up over ice cream or FaceTime to talk about.
- Stock up on free online resources: Summer learning doesn't have to break the bank. The internet is full of free activities ( SummerLearning.org offers several free resources and activities to download). We also created interactive activity packets to keep your kids learning. Stop by any Umpqua store or download your copy.
(PS: In addition to thousands of scoops of ice cream, Umpqua will arm our five ice cream trucks with interactive learning materials to help parents and kids incorporate learning into the most basic of summer pleasures).
- Community resources: Look to your local library for summer reading programs or your parks department for enrichment opportunities. Most community libraries offer free programming to keep kids engaged over the summer and parks programs often have scholarships to reduce costs.
Raising your hand to stop the slide
If you're ready to commit your time and resources to your broader community, check out the following ideas.
- Volunteer: Get out in the community and volunteer for organizations engaging kids this summer! VolunteerMatch.com is a great place to find volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood. Like last year where we volunteered nearly 10,000 hours to stop the slide, Umpqua associates across our footprint are finding ways to use their 40 hours of paid volunteer time.
- Donate: Organizations rely on financial support to offer summer reading programs to our communities-every dollar counts! Visit DonorsChoose.org to find a school-based summer project to fund. We complement our volunteer efforts through our focus on grants to local organizations that provide summer learning programs in our communities.
Together, we can all work to stop the Summer Slide for the kids in our communities. For more ideas throughout the summer, watch our Facebook page or check out the #stoptheslide hashtag on social media.