8 Surprising Facts About Summer Slide

Last Updated on October 3, 2023 by Editorial Team

Summers are the most awaited season for children and parents. With warm mornings, a dewy atmosphere, and endless possibilities, summers are a powerhouse of limitless fun. Though as much as the parents await summers, it is also most dreaded by them. 

Though summer marks the beginning of the fun, it also marks the beginning of the summer slide. Summer slide is not a fun swing that can be enjoyed in the summer. Rather, the phenomenon marks the decline in knowledge over the long summer gaps due to less practice of academic content. Summer breaks are long, and most children prefer to avoid their studies for most of the break. This process may lead to a summer slide.  

This article will take you through some facts that represent a big picture of the summer slide and will help the parents and teachers better understand it.

Facts about summer slide 

Summer slide or summer learning loss is a real phenomenon that can be a serious issue for children, parents, and teachers. Dealing with summer loss requires, first, understanding what the summer slide is followed by how understanding can help prevent the summer slide. 

Let’s begin with some facts about the summer slide to increase one’s knowledge about the same – 

1. A significant loss in mathematics and reading skills during the summer break

One of the major drawbacks of the summer slide is the substantial loss of mathematics and reading skills over the long summer breaks. Research[1] indicates no increment in learning during the summers after kindergarten and first grade.

Also, a substantial loss in the mathematics and reading skills of the children has been observed over the summer breaks. A study[2] indicates that the median summer losses in reading skills are approximately one to two months of learning whereas mathematical loss is one to three months of school learning. To deal with these issues, regular reading for improving linguistic intelligence and summer math programs are good go-to options.

2. Loss of content learned before the summer break

Long summer breaks impact the content learned before the beginning of the summer breaks. A study[3] indicates that an average student lost approximately 17-28% of the prior year’s learning during the long summer gaps. The study further indicated that the students who face summer slide in one summer break are more likely to do it in subsequent summer breaks. 

3. Educators must put extra effort into combating the effects of the summer slide. 

There is no doubt that long summer gaps can be a serious issue for children’s knowledge and skills. To combat the issue, educators have to put in extra effort and time to restore the lost skills of the children. Additionally, schools and educators[4] have to reform the objectives, curricula, and academic calendars to fit the achievement level of students after the summer learning loss. 

4. Summer learning loss is a cumulative process. 

Education and skills loss during one summer break is not the end of the story. Rather, the losses over the various summer breaks add up, known as a cumulative process. A 3-year field trial study[5] was done on a multi-layered summer school program to prevent cumulative summer learning loss. The results have indicated that multi-layered summer school programs are effective in minimizing summer learning loss and enhancing achievement gaps.  

5. The summer slide impacts more children from low-income backgrounds than from other backgrounds. 

It is unfair to say that children of all economic backgrounds suffer similar learning loss during their summer vacations. The effects of the summer slide are great for low-income people compared to high-income people. A study[6] indicates that students from low-income backgrounds tend to lose more than two months of their reading skills and achievements compared to high-income students. 

6. Lack of equal opportunities and resources during summer breaks 

Summer breaks are not similar for every child. Some children might have access to advanced technology and resources, whereas some children do not have access to basic resources. Access to libraries, summer math camps, and community programs plays a significant role in preventing summer slide, but these opportunities are not available to everyone.

A study[2] has shown that children who voluntarily attend summer programs tend to gain modestly high results in mathematics. The study was conducted in five urban school districts. Summer reading programs or resources have also been proven useful for children with low socio-economic backgrounds. 

7. Summer slide is not a result of gender, intelligence, culture, or race. 

Summer slide is a phenomenon that will happen irrespective of one’s IQ, gender, or race until and unless you take preventive measures. In a study[2], it was shown that there is no correlation between summer learning loss and the gender, IQ, and race of the students. 

8. A small number of parents are aware of the summer slide phenomenon. 

Summer slide is not as common as people believed it to be. For preventing summer slide, it is important for both educators and parents to be consciously aware of the summer slide phenomenon to take necessary preventive measures. Research[7] has indicated that parents from different socio-economic backgrounds need to support and be involved in their child’s academics and schooling as it is highly necessary for their achievement.

How can summer slide facts help prevent summer slides? 

Summer slide is a challenge for teachers and parents, and the mentioned facts are proof of it. With such huge academic loss over the years, a decline in intellectual capacity will likely happen. Let’s see how these facts can help parents and teachers beat the summer learning loss. 

1. More awareness 

The summer slide facts represent the truth about the phenomenon, and it will help parents become more aware of the concept of the summer slide and deal with it effectively. Parents and children can join summer slide campaigns or awareness meet-ups to understand the mechanics behind the process and the ways to beat it. 

2. Increased engagement 

With facts comes knowledge and awareness. It will lead to more engagement in activities necessary for beating the summer slide, such as regular reading, writing, outdoor activities, summer camps, community programs, etc. 

3. Long-term planning 

Summer slide facts provide a framework for effective long-term planning crucial for effectively dealing with summer slides. Long-term planning will give the teachers and education system an upper hand in planning measures, such as course curriculum, lesson objectives, etc., to address educational loss over the summer gap. 

Concluding thoughts 

To conclude, the summer slide is not something to be taken lightly. The loss that may look minor during one summer break can add up during various summer breaks and lead to a significant loss in education and skills. Grasping the knowledge about the summer slide and clearing one’s facts are important to understand the process better and effectively plan the strategies to keep the summer slide away from developing children. 

Summer learning loss can be dealt with the right strategy and effective measures. Children can engage in various summer vacation activities over their summer break to keep themselves energized and intellectually active.


  1. Workman, J., & Downey, D. B. (2018). Inequality in Reading and Math Skills Forms Mainly before Kindergarten: A Replication, and Partial Correction, of “Are Schools the Great Equalizer?”. Sociology of Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/0038040718801760
  2. Kuhfeld, M. (2022, September 29). Rethinking summer slide: The more you gain, the more you lose – kappanonline.org. kappanonline.org. https://kappanonline.org/rethinking-summer-slide-the-more-you-gain-the-more-you-lose/
  3. Atteberry, Allison, and Andrew McEachin. (2019). School’s Out: The Role of Summers in Understanding Achievement Disparities. (EdWorkingPaper: 19-82). Retrieved from Annenberg Institute at Brown University: https://doi.org/10.26300/2mam-bp02
  4. Cooper, H. (n.d.). Summer Learning Loss: The Problem and Some Solutions. ERIC Digest. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED475391
  5. Borman, G. D., & Dowling, N. M. (2006). Longitudinal Achievement Effects of Multiyear Summer School: Evidence From the Teach Baltimore Randomized Field Trial. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. https://doi.org/10.3102/01623737028001025
  6. Burkam, D. T., Ready, D. D., Lee, V. E., & LoGerfo, L. F. (2004). Social-Class Differences in Summer Learning Between Kindergarten and First Grade: Model Specification and Estimation. Sociology of Education. https://doi.org/10.1177/003804070407700101
  7. Parker, L. (n.d.). A Case Study of Elementary School Parents as Agents for Summer Reading Gain: Fostering a Summer Leap and Holding Steady. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1146496

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