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FREE Summer Slide Infographic Download

FREE Summer Slide Infographic Download 539 400 admin

Explaining summer slide and its impacts can be complicated.  Not any more!  This excellent infographic from the National Summer Learning Association uses the power of the picture to explain why it is important for every school, parent and teacher to address summer learning loss.

Download a full size version HERE

Summer Learning and the Achievement Gap Info Graphic copy

Get Geeky about Summer Learning Loss Research

Get Geeky about Summer Learning Loss Research 208 246 admin

Summer Learning Loss Impacts Every Student and Teacher Every Year

All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Research spanning 100 years shows that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer (White, 1906; Entwisle & Alexander 1992; Cooper, 1996; Downey et al. 2004).

The research on summer learning loss is so persuasive the John Hopkins University founded the National Association for Summer Learning a decade ago to help educate parents and teachers on how to prevent summer learning loss. The organization is now independent of the university and can be found at

Recognized by the National Summer Learning Association in 2012 as an summer learning program Excellence Award nominee, ThinkStretch supports the initiatives of the National Summer Learning Association in stopping summer learning loss.

Download one, two or more of the terrific research that has been done by the National Association for Summer Learning.

Summer can set kids on the right – or wrong – path

Doesn’t Every Child Deserve a Memorable Summer?

How to Make Summer Reading Effective

More Than a Hunch: Kids Lose Learning Skills Over the Summer Months




Kids Who Read Beat Summer Slide

Beat Summer Slide Infographic FREE

Beat Summer Slide Infographic FREE 1200 777 admin

“Kids who read beat Summer Slide”  is the message from First Book, a non-profit focused on providing books in the home for every child.  This terrific infographic can be used with teachers and parents to help stress the importance of summer reading to stopping summer brain drain.

Download Full Size Image Now!


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What is Summer Learning Loss?

What is Summer Learning Loss? 540 401 admin
 Principals and teachers alike have been asking, “What is summer learning loss? How does it affect my students?” The short answer is most students lose about two months of grade level equivalency in reading and mathematical computation skills over the summer months – what educators and researchers refer to as “summer learning loss” or  “summer brain drain.”


This annual loss of knowledge accumulates every summer and results in the loss of 18 months of math skills and nearly 2 years of reading skills in students who do not practice academic skills over the summer.  High school drop out rates can be directly correlated to the amount of learning that students lose over the summer months during elementary school.

A student who is able to maintain their knowledge over the summer, as shown by the pink line in the graph, is able to learn new knowledge as soon as they return to school.  The student who loses knowledge over the summer, the gray line on the graph, must struggle to both re-learn old material and to learn new material.  Unfortunately, the student who loses learning over the summer rarely catches up to the student who maintains learning over the summer.

Summer learning loss is a chronic, and often unaddressed, contributor to the achievement gap.  It impacts standardized test scores, students ability to meet their academic potential, and grows the achievement gap between students of varying income levels.

It is imperative that principals, teachers and parents address the issue of summer learning loss to see our children and students become the successful adults we know that they can be.

The ThinkStretch Summer Learning program is an affordable and effective way to stop summer learning loss.


What Administrators Can do About Summer Learning Loss

What Administrators Can do About Summer Learning Loss 300 200 admin

As an administrator, you work hard to provide the students in your school or district the best possible chance of success through learning opportunities, great teachers and a well-spent budget. Therefore it can be hard to watch them walk out the door and into the summer sunset knowing they face the possibility of huge learning losses before they return the following year.

Not only do kids face losing mathematics and spelling skills, reportedly the first to go when kids are away from school for any stretch of time, but low-income students are likely to slide on reading skills as well.

While some groups have argued for making school year-round and others point out that American kids spent significantly less time behind their desks than competitors in Europe and Asia, you can’t do much about the length of the school year at this point. So what can you do?

There Is An Answer

Luckily, there is one thing you can offer to help stop summer slide, and that’s a high-quality option for summer learning.

According to the RAND Corporation, programs during the summer months have the power to reverse these losses and help students enter their next year in the same or better shape than they left the last one.

Their 2011 report Making Summer Count: How Summer Programs Can Boost Children’s Learning explains, “A review of the literature on Summer learning loss and summer learning programs, coupled with data from ongoing programs offered by districts and private providers across the United States, demonstrates the potential of summer programs to improve achievement.”

The Best Form for Summer Learning

Most savvy administrators know, however, that the bulk of the responsibility for halting Summer learning loss will still rest on parents’ shoulders, no matter how motivated teachers are to step in. The question becomes how to offer a viable program that will benefit kids but that won’t tax parents and in which those driven teachers can play a role.

ThinkStretch is the answer. It’s a comprehensive summer review program, specific to grade level, that helps ensure kids are ready to start learning new material in the fall, rather than relearning what they’ve forgotten over the summer. Complete with educational workbooks, parent guides and ideas for family engagement, it’s fully set up to help the whole family focus on summer learning.

As for your teachers, who want to stop Summer learning loss in its tracks? They can become coordinators, helping to educate parents about the program and leading the awards ceremony for partially and fully completed workbooks in the fall.

Ready … Set … STOP Summer Learning Loss

You can do your students a huge favor simply by making ThinkStretch available in your school. With teacher support and parent enthusiasm, you can make summer learning a reality for many children, benefiting them, their families and your school or district.

Why wait? Explore your options for boosting summer retention and learning today.


Pretty african american girl in the park reading a book

2015/16 BrainFreeze Reading Challenge Winners

2015/16 BrainFreeze Reading Challenge Winners 541 399 admin

BrainFreeze Online Reading Challenge for 2015/16 is a huge success! Thank you to all of you wonderful adults who helped keep kids brains warm this Winter Break with lots of reading and learning fun.

This year’s contest was participated in by schools in over 35 states! Kids read over 32,000 minutes in the 10 days of winter break. Michigan had the most students registered with Florida close behind.

The top two participating schools were Colonial Drive Elementary in Fl and Holly Academy in Michigan.

2015/2016 Prize Winners

We have 3 terrific student winners from our random prize drawing. The first two winners won raffle tickets for reading. The BrainGain Bonus Winner was selected from students who had completed BrainGain questions.

First Prize Winner – Kindle Kids Bundle
Student from Black Lake Elementary in WA

Second Prize Winner – Kindle
Student from Fair Haven Elementary in MI

BrainGain Bonus Winner – Kindle Tablet
Student from Hanover Horton in MI

BrainFreeze Online Reading Certificates

Every student who competed in the BrainFreeze Online Reading Challenge is eligible for an online reading certificate.  Please download a certificate if it would be meaningful for your student.


Thank you to our schools who encouraged the BrainFreeze Online Reading Challenge!

Schools with more than multiple students registered for the challenge are…
Baum Elementary, IL
Cedar Ridge Elementary, Missouri
East Elementary MI
Colonial Drive Elementary, FL (36 kids!)
Daly Elementary, MI
East Elementary, MI (15 kids)
Elk Run UT
Engadine Elementary, MI
Fisher Elementary MI
Floyd Elementary NV
Gateway North Elementary, MI
Hanover Horton Elementary, MI (10 kids)
Heathrow Elementary, MI
Highland Mill Montessori ES, NC
Holly Academy, MI (32 kids!)
Hueneme Christian School CA
Kingston Elementary School MI (14)
Manatee Bay Elementary FL
McAuliffe Elementary School, FL
Midway Elementary School of the Arts, FL
North Muskegon Elementary MI
Our Lady of Good Counsel, NY (Mrs. Traverso’s class had 20 kids register!)
Round Elementary MI
SS Dixon Intermediate

Kids Reading Books

3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and Summer Vacation – Frenemies?

3rd Grade Reading Guarantee and Summer Vacation – Frenemies? 424 283 admin

The 3rd grade reading guarantee was put in place to ensure that every student has achieved a minimum score on a state’s reading assessment before proceeding to 4th grade.  In many states, this guarantee comes with increased intervention guidelines in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, but it rarely addresses summer reading losses, intervention guidelines or financial support.

Reflecting on how the 3rd grade reading guarantee and summer vacation interact, I was reminded of my teenager’s slang – frenemy. A frenemy is a person with whom one is friendly despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry.  Summer can be friendly or a straight up enemy to students’ success with the third grade reading guarantee.

Summer vacation offers the opportunity for some students to have new experiences, play and learn in different ways, and more time reading with books at home.  All of this adds up to more life experiences that increase reading comprehension and time spent reading builds that skill. However, for many students, summer vacation means a loss of 2 months in reading skill each summer and a cumulative loss of nearly a half year of reading skill by 3rd grade.

Looking at the impact summer has on reading skills, there is a clear distinction between children of different socio-economic status.  While the research is clear that there is no difference between the students based on race, gender or IQ, low-income students are more likely to lose up to 2 months of reading skill while middle income students are more likely to maintain or even increase their reading level.

Given this information, it is clear that even if students progress at the same rate during the school year, summer alters the likelihood a student will advance to 4th grade.  If not addressed, summer also nearly guarantees that students of low economic status are much more likely to fail to advance to 4th grade.

Fortunately, research is also demonstrating that it is neither expensive nor complicated to stem the loss of reading skill for our vulnerable students.  Simply providing summer resources for students and some guidance for parents around reading times, book availability and book discussions is enough to stop summer reading skill loss. Combine this effort with some in home STEM learning projects and suggested summer activities, and students not only maintain skills but build learning experiences.

With the high-stakes test, pressure builds on students and teachers. It seems less than productive to leave reading skills to regress over summer vacation and place added stress during the school year.  As we look to support schools this summer, we are very serious when we reflect on the pressures of the 3rd grade reading guarantee and the summer vacation and ask ourselves…

Frenemies? Or can we simply make them friends?

kids reading the same book

5 Ways to Get Books And Keep Students Reading This Summer

5 Ways to Get Books And Keep Students Reading This Summer 424 282 admin

One of the greatest challenges for stressed families over the summer is the availability of books for their children. Time and again, research shows that the fewer books in the home, the less likely a child is to be on target for grade level reading skills. During the school year, this deficit can be addressed in the classroom and with library check out programs. But what happens when the school doors close and summer is upon us?

Unfortunately for many low socioeconomic status students, summer means nearly a 2 month loss of reading skill. This loss is not only correlated to the lack of books in the home, but also to the lack of conversation about reading. While reading supports the skill, it is the discussion of the book that relates to comprehension. Here at ThinkStretch, we think about this a lot and have great ideas from schools and universities to increase your students’ access to books.

The challenge is to provide 12 books per student to read over the summer. Why 12? Because researcher Richard Allington demonstrated that those students who received 12 books a summer over 3 years had “significantly higher” reading scores, experience less of a summer slide and read more on their own each summer than those who didn’t get books.

But getting books doesn’t necessarily mean a trip to the book store. There are plenty of ways to get books for your students and not have to spend half their college savings to get them. Here are 5 opportunities to capitalize on free books during the summer.

  1. Open Library Hours – one of our favorite schools offers a stipend to the media specialist to open the library one afternoon a week to allow students to check in and out the books of their choice.
  2. Book Swap – organized by parents, every Thursday evening kids and parents come to school to swap books.  At the end of the school year, a huge collection of used books are given to students.  Gathered through out the year, these books are the basis of the weekly book swap.
  3. Book Fair Giveaway – using Title I funds, several schools offer students the opportunity to choose up to 12 books at a Summer Book Fair at school.  This is the model that was used by Allington in his research.
  4. Free Books – Several companies like Barnes and Noble, Scholastic and even Pottery Barn offer free books to students every summer.  Check out the easy requirements and set your students up with at least one brand new book.
  5. Library Card Day – Many districts partner with the local library to sign students up with their own library cards by bringing the library to school.  At the same time, the library promotes their summer reading program and gets kids excited to visit often.

And to increase the conversation about books?  Simply send every student home with a ThinkStretch Parent Guide to Summer!

Why does the military care about summer learning loss?

Why does the military care about summer learning loss? 424 283 admin

Mission Readiness recently released a report explaining why the military cares about summer learning loss. Retired military leaders are warning that summer learning loss is reducing the number of high school graduates eligible for military service. “The perilous combination of academic losses and rapid weight gain during the summer months” is a major contributor to three out of every four adults being ineligible for the Armed Forces because they are poorly educated or are overweight. A seminal report issued by Mission: Readiness, a nonprofit, nonpartisan national security organization of more than 300 retired generals, admirals and other military leaders, identifies summer learning loss as a national security threat.

ThinkStretch agrees with Mission: Readiness’ assessment of the negative impact of summer learning losses on a students’ academic futures and outcomes. As the report points out, less fortunate children are most at risk with summer learning loss “accounting for as much as two-thirds of the total gap in [low income students’] academic achievement compared to their more advantaged peers.”

The gap between opportunities available to more advantaged children versus less advantaged children belies the iconic ideal of the Tom Sawyer summer of outdoor freedom for all. Many students in lower socio-economic classes are stuck indoors, due to dual working parents, neighborhoods lacking safe play spaces and a dearth of organized enrichment activities. More advantaged children have enriching summers of swim leagues, book reading, museums and travel.

Mission: Readiness recognizes that summer is more than half the problem in the poor academic performance of many low income students. “Schools cannot fully recover the academic setbacks that too many children suffer each summer.” Yet because the area of summer academics is studied at a rate of only 1 in every 10,000 published studies, it is difficult to identify specifically what happens to children over the summer, and what innovations will work to help them succeed.

Several factors, however, have been identified as having strong potential to prevent academic skill loss during the summers. ThinkStretch is proud to incorporate these factors in its summer learning program.

  • Parent involvement – programs with a parent involvement component were associated with more positive achievement effects.
  • Increased home reading – approaches that required home reading of free choice books demonstrated improved reading scores on par with attending summer school.
  • Parent coaching for reading – teaching parents how to interact with student reading, including comprehension and basic reading skills showed tremendous benefits for summer home reading.

Mission: Readiness concludes that a combination of approaches is likely the best produce the best results. As our schools, legislators and now military leaders join voices to address summer learning loss, ThinkStretch is poised to advocate and educate on this crucial issue for our children’s future.

While the root causes and best practices for decreasing summer learning loss continue to be researched and studied, ThinkStretch is proud to be on the leading innovative edge of education with a summer learning program that incorporates parent involvement and coaching, free choice reading and broad based academic skill review.

Summer in the Winter

Summer in the Winter 424 283 admin

Schools in Australia are just finishing up their summer break! Often beginning the first week of December, with students returning to school in March, summer learning loss is only beginning to be a topic of thought in Australian education circles.

While summer learning loss as a national phenomenom has gained recognition across schools, legislatures and parents in the US, our friends down under are just starting their work.

For most Australians, summer camps and educational opportunities are not the normal experience. Only 12% of school aged children attend or participate in any type of summer learning opportunity. Australia also lacks the pervasive “summer reading” messages and programming that have multiplied in the United States.

An acquaintance of mine was transferred to Australia for two years and had the chance to take her ThinkStretch books with her. While her students enjoyed a mid-winter summer, complete with Christmas celebrations and New Year revelry, she was able to keep up with school year learning simply and easily.

As we have learned here, it takes much less time to maintain school year skills than it does to re-teach lost skills. While having 100% of students involved in academic and enrichment activities over the summer may not be a feasible goal, having 100% of students maintain their school year learning over the summer is an attainable goal.

A holiday gift to our friends down under could be our knowledge that 20 minutes of reading, 5 days a week is enough is to maintain reading skill levels over the summer. We share that frequent, short bursts of math fact practice are painless and keep those memorized facts easy to recall. And that all students benefit from hands on STEM activities that can be done at home. We send our message that “learning never stops” to Australia and look forward to what we can learn from them.

We have made tremendous progress in the US working to stop summer brain drain, educating parents and schools that learning should not stop as the school closes for summer, and understanding that every child loses learning if they do not practice over the summer. We have much to be proud of and much work still to do, but sometimes seeing ourselves in relation to the world can give us pride in our accomplishments.