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Summer Program Aims to Stop 'Summer Slide'

Entering its sixth year, the Scholastic Summer Challengeis again tackling the dreaded “summer slide.”

The free program encourages students to track their reading minutes summer slideduring the summer while teachers and parents work together to promote independent reading. Experts say independent reading is effective in preventing the loss of student academic skills known as the “summer slide.”

Those same experts estimate that when students don’t read over the summer, teachers typically need four to six weeks in the fall to re-teach material students have forgotten.

EducationWorld spoke with Francie Alexander, Scholastic's Chief Academic Officer, about the Summer Challenge and how it can not only prevent “summer slide,” but also show kids that reading is fun.

Now that the Summer Challenge is in its sixth year, have you been able to get a feel for the impact the program has had on the participating students?

The Scholastic Summer Challenge program continues to grow year after year. Last year more than 100,000 students from 25 countries participated and logged an impressive 64,213,141 reading minutes, beating the previous year’s record by 12 million minutes. So we know that kids are reading more and enjoying the competitive nature that this program offers. 

Through conversations with teachers, we know that teachers are encouraging their students to participate in this program, as they see it as a great motivating tool to keep reading all summer. Last year, we introduced a classroom registration feature. More than 10,000 teachers participated, and the feedback continues to be extremely positive.   

We are looking forward to seeing continued growth and are confident that more kids will participate, and that they will set a new world record for summer reading.

What about the program do you believe has led to its success?

The Scholastic Summer Challenge is all about making reading fun for kids with weekly challenges, fun sweepstakes, virtual prizes and a chance to be in the 2013 Scholastic Book of World Recordsfor the most reading minutes. Kids love to compete for anything, so the fact that they can participate in personal reading challenges and collect virtual rewards in their prize center, or compete for their school to be featured in the Scholastic Book of World Records, is motivating, fun and rewarding at the same time.

The Web site also offers something for parents and teachers to help engage them in the children’s summer reading. Parents can sign up to receive email alerts on their child’s reading achievements, find expert tips, download summer book lists, and discover ways to use the Summer Challenge at home with a Family Participation Guide. Teachers can sign up their class through classroom registration and track their students’ reading activity throughout the summer. 

Do you find that it matters what kind of book students read, or is any summer reading “good reading”?

The 2010 Kids & Family Reading Report found that when children choose their own book, they are 90 percent more likely to finish reading it. Anything that gets your child to read for pleasure will help her build her vocabulary and sharpen reading comprehension skills. By giving kids the power of choice and letting them choose to read anything that interests them, reading will feel less like “homework” and more like “homefun.”

With the Scholastic Summer Challenge, educators can:

  • Sign up their entire class with bulk registration at Scholastic.com/summer
  • Use a personalized classroom dashboard to track the reading minutes for the class and for individual students
  • View a virtual map with a list of top schools, as well as participation statistics for an entire school, city, state and country
  • At the Summer Challenge Web site, explore free resources for the home such as printable reading logs, letters for parents, and a new reading list for parents to help their kids find books they will enjoy
  • Sign up their class for free webcasts, including Series Favorites: Heroes, Scamps & Sidekicks and the WordGirl Definition Competition
  • Register by June 30 to enter to win the Summer Challenge Teacher Sweepstakes. Prizes include: a classroom library, $250 gift certificate to the Teacher Store, and a one-year subscription for Scholastic Administr@tor and Scholastic Instructor magazines.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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