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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Summer Speech Miracles?

Published September 5, 2014 7:51 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
There are numerous research studies that give evidence that children often LOSE skills over the 2 to 3 summer months when they are not attending school. According to the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) website the "summer slide ... is what happens when young minds sit idle for three months." The site reports that the National Summer Learning Association has found that "a conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year ... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills." In addition, "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains"(Cooper, 1996).

As a mom of two young girls and as a speech therapist who has worked in a school setting for many years, I can absolutely see how the "summer slide" is a slippery reality for many children. I'm sure this is especially true for children whose families have limited resources and opportunities for them to engage in learning experiences and activities over those summer months. If your child is attending various camps, doing their summer reading, visiting the library and local museums, etc. then hopefully skill loss would be kept to a minimum.

With all that being said, I am so very happy to report that most if not all of the children who attended our summer school session this year are showing skill retention during this first week of school. I had the opportunity to work with and observe our students this week and those who were just beginning to imitate modeled speech in the classroom during the spring months are now using 1-2 words to initiate speech, answer questions and make simple inquiries. I also noted an expansion of vocabulary words as well as improvement with non-verbal body language, such as eye contact, smiles and overall social engagement.

Was it their 4 week summer school attendance at our preschool? Was it trips with family to the shore, the zoo and amusement parks? Was it longer days playing outside with siblings and friends? Or was it just natural human development that children experience during a 3 month timeframe? It's difficult to say. No formal research was conducted. Regardless, I am happy to report many of our students have arrived back at school looking excited and eager to play, learn and demonstrate what they know!

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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