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Daily reading, writing and arithmetic can fight off 'summer slide'

Published: Monday, July 15 2013 6:10 p.m. MDT

The Boys & Girls Club of South Valley previously operated an after-school program at Oquirrh Hills but with the help of grant money from the United Way of Salt Lake was able to extend that school's regular summer course.

"This is kind of a unique program because this was an integration of two separate programs to make one," Linton said. "It was a total merge. We’re able to offer not only the summer school pieces but also the enrichment time."

About 60 students, from pre-kindergarten to fifth grade, participate in the program, which runs Monday to Thursday from 8 a.m. to noon. On Fridays, students have the option of attending a field trip to places like the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake or the Museum of Ancient Life at Thanksgiving Point.

Granite School District spokesman Ben Horsley said educators go to great lengths to encourage students to keep reading and learning during the summer months, but most fall out of the everyday learning habits that help them grow.

He said summer programs, while attended by only a handful of a school's total population, provide a benefit to students by offering fun but academically focused activities.

"Every student benefits from continuing to read through the summer and continuing to do activities that help them," he said. "If they’ve maintained those good habits through the summer, it helps their progress in the fall."

Brenda Hales, deputy state superintendent, compared academic learning to a physical activity like tennis in that without practice, a person will lose or weaken the skills they've developed.

"It’s inevitable if students don’t practice the skills that they learned during school time, they have a tendency to have some learning loss occur," she said. "Your brain needs exercise just as much as your body."

She said the amount of learning loss that occurs over summer break varies from student to student, but she generally agreed with the two- to three-week window of reteaching suggested by the National Summer Learning Association survey.

Hales suggested that to counteract a summer slide, parents should encourage their children to spend 20 minutes reading every day, as well as roughly 10 to 15 minutes of basic math or writing activities.

"If you keep those three things moving and you keep them fresh, then you’re going to do better as a students," she said. "You don’t have to spend a lot of time every day but just enough so they’re keeping in practice."

Email: benwood@deseretnews.com

Twitter: bjaminwood

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