Should parents be worried about the “summer slide”?


York University experts available to discuss summer learning loss

TORONTO, June 24, 2019 – Student learning should not fall by the wayside just because school is out for summer break.

That’s the advice of two York University educators who agree the summer slide phenomenon is real. Research has shown that students can lose about two months of reading and mathematics skills over the summer, resulting in an achievement gap when they return to school in the fall. This is particularly pronounced in lower-income and at-risk student populations.

York’s experts say the best way for parents to combat this summer knowledge loss is to keep students learning. The experts are available for interviews on their research and work in the areas of reading, math and online learning. They can also provide summer slide tips for parents, to help their children from losing academic ground.

Sharon Murphy is a professor in the Faculty of Education. She has conducted extensive research on literacy education, early childhood education, literacy learning, education assessment and online learning tools to improve literacy. Murphy wrote and co-wrote several journal articles including The role of digital technology in teen mothers’ and their children’s literacy and authored a chapter in the book Global Conversations in Literacy Research, both published last year. Currently, Murphy is writing a book for teachers with strategies and tactics for teaching, as well as evidence-based practices in language and literacy.

She can share literacy summer slide tips for parents, including:

  • Provide books to children at home, especially in pre-primary and primary grades
  • Choose books that interest children, ensuring there is a good flow to the words
  • Encourage children to re-read their favourite books
  • Leverage digital technologies through electronic books and apps

Tina Rapke is an assistant professor in the Faculty of Education. She teaches mathematics education courses to current and prospective teachers and has conducted extensive research on strategies to enhance the learning and teaching of mathematics. Rapke has also worked with elementary schools in Ontario to develop videos to help parents do math and talk about mathematics with their children. Currently, Rapke leads a program in a GTA-based school to address parental concerns about math education and develop practical strategies to help students learn basic arithmetic, through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) grant that supports connections between home and school learning.

She can share math summer slide tips for parents, including:

  • Practice math as a family in fun, easy and meaningful ways
  • Consider math games to support children’s math studies
  • Leverage kids' everyday questions about time, money and play dates to practice basic skills and solve math problems

York University champions new ways of thinking that drive teaching and research excellence. Our students receive the education they need to create big ideas that make an impact on the world. Meaningful and sometimes unexpected careers result from cross-disciplinary programming, innovative course design and diverse experiential learning opportunities. York students and graduates push limits, achieve goals and find solutions to the world’s most pressing social challenges, empowered by a strong community that opens minds. York U is an internationally recognized research university – our 11 faculties and 25 research centres have partnerships with 200+ leading universities worldwide. Located in Toronto, York is the third largest university in Canada, with a strong community of 53,000 students, 7,000 faculty and administrative staff, and more than 300,000 alumni.

York U's fully bilingual Glendon Campus is home to Southern Ontario's Centre of Excellence for French Language and Bilingual Postsecondary Education.

Media Contact: Vanessa Thompson, York University Media Relations, 647-654-9452,