The Summer Slide


What is the summer slide? It can be defined as the loss of academic skills over the summer break.


When kids don’t read, work math problems, or aren’t engaged in other learning experiences, their education doesn’t continue and can actually regress. A five-year research study by John Hopkins University in the 1980s showed that children from lower-income families lose both reading and math skills over the summer while children in higher-income families actually gained skills. The reason? Higher-income families were more likely to invest in summer enrichment programs for their children, travel with their children, and have more books available to them than lower-income families. Even though the higher-income children were not enrolled in formal educational opportunities, they were experiencing opportunities that were stretching and provoking their minds.


Since 1988, Emerald Youth Foundation has been making a positive difference with Knoxville’s inner-city young people, especially during the critical summer months. Through our faith, learning, relationship and health programs, Emerald Youth serves 1,200+ young people annually – nearly 400 during the summer alone.


At Emerald Youth, we provide a number of programs and activities for students during the summer, many of which are fundamentally simple and inexpensive to do with kids. Three ideas include:


  • Read – Visit your local library, check out a few books, and get to it! And age doesn’t matter. Whether the child is 4 or 14, you can help foster love of reading. If the youngster cannot yet read, then invest the time to read to him or her. The best part – it’s free (as long as you return your books on time!).


  • Spend Time Outdoors – In today’s culture, the prevalence of video games and other forms of electronic entertainment keeps too many children inside. Unplug from it all and head outdoors. Opportunities abound, especially in Knoxville and Knox County, to make use of the many parks and trails. One of the most popular activities Emerald Youth kids enjoy is going to the local splash pads and fountains to cool off.


  • Learn Your History – No matter what community in which you reside, it has a history. East Tennessee is full of amazing, historical places to visit that can serve as learning experiences for kids. For example, just by walking with youth through downtown Knoxville, they can learn about the Tennessee Theater, the old Knox County Courthouse, the birth of country music, and of course, the 1982 World’s Fair. Again, it’s free!


By providing these types of activities for the children in your life, this summer can be a memorable one…and hopefully the only slide they will go down is at a local park!


Find out more about The Emerald Youth Foundation by visiting