Opinion Matters

With Gazette Opinion Editor Greg Peck

How to stop that “summer slide”

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Greg Peck
July 10, 2013

I read an interesting commentary in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by Alan J. Borsuk. He suggested that the way to stop the “summer slide”—that learning loss among children during the summer break from school—is to get them to your public library.

“Kids who coast intellectually through the summer lose ground,” Borsuk wrote. “Come September, they often are two months behind where they were in June.”

Research suggests this summer slide is a serious issue affecting a child’s educational success. Borsuk pointed to a National Assessment of Educational Progress report that say kids who read for fun at least once a week do substantially better than kids who rarely read for fun. All these points lend support for getting kids to a library, where they could choose books to read, use computers or take part in summer programs—all for free. In Janesville, check out Hedberg Public Library to learn about options.

Borsuk added one crucial note: “The roots of interest in reading have a lot to do with parents, of course. Reading habits often are shaped by surrounding influences. In a household where parents read and encourage their children to read, the odds are good that reading will be a healthy and beneficial part of life. But there are so many homes where that is not the case…”

In the latter homes, expect a severe summer slide—especially if the kids don’t make it to the library.

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook

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