Reverse the Summer Slide: Validate. Inform. Empower.

Reverse the Summer Slide: Validate. Inform. Empower. Three students line up at the teacher's desk, as one looks frustrated at a test score.
By Sandra Braceful-Quarles

Summer break is winding down and the chatter of final vacations, backpacks filled with school supplies, and the start of a new school year are almost upon us. Teachers are organizing their classrooms and preparing for another successful year. But while we encouraged our students to read, practice, and discover during this time to avoid the dreaded summer slide, there’s no guarantee that any learning took place during this time. It’s even more likely that the students who really struggle didn’t read at all.

In education, we’re in a new era where teacher evaluations are tied to student growth. How can you get the most out of your struggling students as you continue to challenge the others? While focusing on best practices, remember that you have the YOU Program in your toolbox. It has many components that work in conjunction with best teaching practices.

Validate through Parent Praise
Parents often hear what they are not doing right or how they need to do more because their child struggles. Instead, congratulate them often. Encourage them to attend the school’s information night and get students ready to learn using the 3Bs: breakfast, backpack check, and bedtime rest. Doing so helps their child’s physical health (sleep and nutrition) and emotional well-being (consistency), while modeling supportive leadership for their education and communicating with you.

Start a ‘Parent of the Month’ raffle for any parent who communicates with you throughout the month. Prizes can range from a book to share with their child to a math game that you print online for free.

Inform through Constant Communication
Teachers are constantly in evaluation and assessment mode to get the best results. Share your plan to accomplish those results with parents through newsletters, models or rubrics, or meetings. Connect the Common Core State Standards (or whichever standards your state uses) to activities that they can do with their children. Remember that we are the professionals, so parents look to us to explain and show them how to help educate their children.

Correlate activities from their YOU: Your Child’s First Teacher books that supplement the skills you are teaching in the classroom. For example, on pages 60-61 of book two, Through Elementary and Middle School, students use their interests and hobbies to make curriculum connections to learning standards. This is a great activity to do with a parent of a struggling student, as the student must enjoy the activity in order to grow.

Empower with Success
Academic success begins with the unknown. As teachers, we know that when we teach a new skill and begin to scaffold it to students, the ultimate achievement occurs when they are able to do it alone.

Students know when they are not as good at something, and therefore will avoid tasks associated with that skill. Parents of struggling students need support, like websites, games, afterschool activities, books, and any information or knowledge you can provide. The homework and study skills on page 45 of book three, Through High School and Beyond, will help parents facilitate a successful environment for their children. These resources help students become independent and realize they can overcome obstacles.

Remember students are with parents or under their care 92 percent of the time. You can accomplish more working together than trying to do it alone. Incorporating components of the YOU Program will create a partnership that’s meant to celebrate a lifetime of learning.