Amanda Ellis

Amanda Ellis

While summer is a time for kids to have fun, sleep in and play outside, it’s often a time educators worry about due to the “summer slide.” Children can lose up to three months of reading and math skills during the summer months when they don’t have opportunities to practice what they learned during the school year.

Also, when we consider the reopening of schools, the effects of summer slide pose greater challenges than ever before. We know that students are likely to have gaps in their learning due to extended remote learning for the last nine weeks of the 2019-2020 school year. Summer slide will only make addressing those academic knowledge gaps next school year more challenging.

But families can help their children keep their brains active and learning over the summer and the Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has created a new webpage to help.

The Summer Support webpage has a variety of resources that families can use during the summer months. Here are some tips about how you can use the resources with your children this summer:

  • Summer Support includes online reading and mathematics resources from KET, Kentucky Virtual Library, Scholastic Summer Read-a-palooza and Kentucky Family Math Games. There are a variety of resources aimed for all ages of learners. They are practical and family-friendly; you don’t have to worry about teaching a complex lesson your child might learn at school. Just reading with your child or keeping them reading something that interests them will help. One mathematics resource even provides easy ways to talk about math with your child any time.
  • Reading together 20 minutes every day is one of the most powerful ways to ensure your child succeeds in school. See the information about the importance of reading to your children and printables, like bookmarks, for parents and caregivers. All of these items are available in both English and Spanish.
  • The virtual read aloud series offers opportunities for you and your children to enjoy hearing stories read by guest readers, including first lady Britainy Beshear, Interim Commissioner of Education Kevin C. Brown and other leaders from KDE, Kentucky high school graduates and authors. I kicked off the virtual read aloud series with a reading of “Swimmy” by Leo Lionni, and additional read alouds will be added throughout June.

KDE also will be continuing its effort to support districts who are ensuring children continue to be fed even when school is not in session. More than 2,700 sites in Kentucky provide nearly 3 million breakfasts, lunches, snacks and suppers annually through the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) for children. For more information about child nutrition programs or to find a feeding site near you, check out KDE’s COVID-19 Nutrition Resources webpage.

Another element of summer support is the Summer Boost: Reading and Mathematics Program, offered by the KDE in partnership with The Children’s Reading Foundation and the Summer Food Service Program. Summer Boost, which impacts 19 school districts and approximately 2,800 students, allows summer feeding sites to provide families with books, math games and ideas for promoting literacy and numeracy in everyday life.

One last thing I want to share is we at KDE know there is a lot of fatigue across the state. You’re tired, your children are tired and teachers are tired. It’s been a trying past few months. While Kentucky’s response to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 emergency weren’t perfect and we’re learning more every day, Kentucky is in a good position compared to other states. Our teachers and students persisted and kept learning going despite school buildings being closed.

I want to thank teachers, students and parents for all their hard work during the school year. It wasn’t easy and next school year is going to be a challenge too. We’re all up for it though. Have a great summer!

Dr. Amanda Ellis is associate commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Teaching and Learning. She came to the department in December 2013 after more than eight years as principal at Emma B. Ward Elementary School (Anderson County).