John in Rose’s space: THE SUMMER SLIDE


By John Monfredo, retired WPS principal and teacher and WSC member

Mr. Monfredo. photo: R.T.

For years I have emphasized the importance of reading in the lives of our WPS children and spoke about the “summer slide.” The “slide” takes place during school summer vacation time due to our children not being engaged in learning activities.

Read! photos submitted

Please remember that the summer slide is real! Our school professionals see the decline in reading and math achievement in our students when they return to school in the fall – just from being away from school for a few months! Often this happens with students who can least afford to lose the reading gains they’ve achieved during the school year, the kids who fall the farthest behind when they return to the classroom after a summer.

Research for years has stated the following: Children who don’t read during the summer risk losing up to three months of reading skills they achieved during the school year.

Without intervention, by the time these students, enter our high schools, the achievement gap widens. It’s even more important this year as we emerge from the Global Pandemic and already there has been a learning loss due to COVID.

Make learning fun!

That’s one of the reasons why, through “Worcester: the City that Reads” my wife Annemarie, also a retired WPS teacher (Nelson Place), and I have collected over 1 million books. In 18 years! We did this for our children in Worcester; the books we’ve collected have gone to children in the community, children living in a families with financial challenges, kids who may lack books in their homes … This poses the greatest barrier to achieving literacy.

Families in need of additional books, please let me know! Email me at …We’ll provide your children with age-appropriate reading material!

Remember, the greatest gift is a passion for reading. As a society, we need to be reminded about that often and do something about it! Let’s look at just a few ideas parents and grandparents may want to consider this summer to assist children …help them avoid the “SUMMER SLIDE”:

First question … Have you enrolled your child in one of the many summer programs available in Worcester? The Worcester Public Schools have a host of programs – many elementary schools with transportation available. The program has started, so if you want to enroll your child, you need to move fast. If you need assistance, call the superintendent of WPSchools Office at 508-799-3115.

In addition, there are many social agencies in the city who can help: the United Way, YMCA, YWCA, Boys and Girls Club, and Rainbow Child Development…they have summer programs. Check it out!

Next, be sure to visit the Worcester Public Library! Just last week they started their summer literacy program. Our libraries are the best buy in this community – they are free and the library opens the door to learning.

Please sign up for lots of great opportunities at our main and branch public libraries!

Let’s look at other ideas that parents need to consider …

Devise a plan. Tell your child that reading and learning activities will be an important part of their summer. Assure them that they’ll still have lots of time for play.

Transform everyday activities into learning opportunities. Children can count change at the store, read directions for a family trip, check a map, write a shopping list or help calculate a recipe’s measurements – and measure cooking ingredients!

Have children hone their math skills through baking/cooking … measuring and adding ingredients, halving recipes call for science/math skills. photo: PETA

Gather those activity books! Give children their own activity books with crossword puzzles or number games, customized for their specific age group. Set a “due date” to keep them on track, but let them work at their own pace. You can buy many of these coloring and activity books at the Dollar Tree stores for just $1.25. Also, they sell cute notebooks, sticker books, pens, crayons and more.

Reading aloud . Parents of toddlers, let me emphasize that reading aloud to young children is the most important way to get them started on the road to being successful readers. This summer, read to and with your child as often as possible. This is a way to spend time with your child – and if it’s convenient for you, read at bedtime. Twenty minutes of reading aloud will accomplish more than you can ever measure!

“The more I read,

The more I know…

20 minutes a day will help me grow.”

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Summer day trips to your local public library = fun! Books, CDs, DVDs, magazines, Kindles and more can be “checked out”!

Have reading material available. Keep books, magazines and newspapers in the home and be a reading role model. Be sure to obtain a library card for your child, and then visit the library and take books home.

Libraries also have movies and CD’s. A child who is a reluctant reader might be more interested in reading a book once he/she has seen the movie. Comic books are also a great way to get your child to read and build their vocabulary.

Cooking can be a reading activity … A good home activity is cooking with your child. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. Let your child design the menu, too! Help your child put together their favorite recipes in their own special cookbook. A fun arts and crafts project!

Field Trips … How about a field trip to a local museum or park with walking trails… have your child keep a journal about your travels and have him or her write about it …

Vocabulary ideas …Another home idea … on the refrigerator door, place new words for the week each Sunday and have the use the words in conversations throughout the week.

Vacation time …If you are planning on taking a vacation this summer, you can turn it into a social studies activity. Ask your child to research the destination’s history, cuisine, popular attractions, etc. Also, once you reach your vacation destination you can schedule tours of famous landmarks and locations, which will increase your child’s social studies knowledge.

Family Reading Night …How about a Family Night each week? Bring out the popcorn and read a book. Try once in a while to get a book based on a movie. Then, show the movie and see if the book did follow the movie script. Many movies can be obtained at the Worcester Public Library.

Importance of summer writing… Be sure that your child has a diary in the summertime and have him write the highlights of his day each evening before going to bed. Other writing activities could be writing a letter to a friend or relative, or even writing to me! It’s important that your child writes often for the more he writes, just like reading, the better he will become with this skill. In addition, be sure to have your child write about their favorite book that they read this summer and send their essay to me – John Monfredo, 8 Cherokee Road Worcester, Ma. 01606. I will select the winning essays from grades K to three, grades four to six, and from seven up. The winners will be rewarded with new books. How is that for an incentive!

I hope that I’ve once again raised parents’ awareness of the importance of supporting your children’s learning in the summertime. I also hope I’ve provided some interesting and fun activities that can prevent the summer slide!

Always have school supplies on hand so children can get creative during summer break! photo: R.T.