Lansing Schools Trying To Stop "Summer Slide"

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Teachers call that summer forgetfulness-- the summer slide. That's why the Lansing School District is starting a new program to keep kids learning. The "Summer Reading Van" is designed to keep those young minds engaged for the three months of vacation by giving students free books.

At the Willow School, stack upon stack of books are waiting for new owners.

"Keep this book and take it home and don't worry about taking it back," said Cheryl Fields who was working the program on Tuesday.

That's what the Lansing School District's summer reading van is doing, providing students with up to four free books over the summer.

"It's very important that they continue to have those types of experiences throughout the summer so that learning loss isn't so prevalent when they come back in the fall," said Peter Spadfore, president of the Lansing School Board of Education.

Students can visit the van twice, picking up two books and worksheets. The district says it's one way they're trying to level the playing field, helping families that may not have access to books

"It's very important that throughout the summer students are presented with opportunities to expand that skill so that it does not fall dormant," Spadfore added.

Educators have found that students who aren't engaged in learning can lose up to two months of instruction time over summer break.

"We're not trying to catapult them into the next grade level but if they can solidify some of the things that they've already learned through reading, then we feel like they have a leg up going into the next school year," said Fields, who also works as a Specialized Instructional Assistant for the district.

It's the first year the district is offering this program, providing the books through a grant.

"These are book titles that they're familiar with and that they're really eager to read," said Karen Marthenze, a specialized assistant for the schools.

"Hopefully they'll get a book, read, and they'll come back and get two more in about a month," said Jocelyn Randle who also work in the schools as a specialized assistant.

But the other important part of this equation are parents.

"Sit down and read with them a few minutes every night it's very important that they see you supporting their education," Spadfore said.

The program started today, with the van stopping at various schools throughout the summer. The district will call families ahead of time so they know when it will be in their area.

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