LEWISTON — As buses lined up outside Farwell Elementary School on Wednesday for the last time this school year, the temperature hovered around 82.

When 3 p.m. arrived, a stream of smiling and occasionally cheering children left the building.

Wednesday was the last day of school in Lewiston. Auburn schools were dismissed Monday.

In their last few minutes as Farwell second-graders, Diane Nadeau’s class talked about what they were going to do over their break.

“I want to read a lot this summer,” said Katelyn Lynch, 8, showing off her reading list. She plans to read a book a week.

Sports, including soccer, baseball, swimming, lacrosse “and 10 others” will fill Caleb Dodge’s days, he said. The best part of summer is “the hotness. It’s my favorite part.”

Ethan Rinko, 8, and Sean Gagnon, 7, said they were sad about no more school for a while. “I won’t get to be with my friends,” Ethan said.

D’Vontay Martineau was practically jumping up and down with anticipation. “I’m going to play in my pool.”

Margaret Krantz, 8, said she was excited about summer. “I’m going to go camping with my friend, Katelyn. I’m going on a new cheering team.” And, she added, she’ll get to sleep in. “I’m definitely going to keep reading over the summer, and I’ll do a little bit of math.”

While celebrating the arrival of summer, educators were worried about the negative effects of the long break, the skills students would lose over the 10 weeks before schools reopen Aug. 27.

Research shows that after about four weeks of no school, many students begin to lose what they’ve learned. By the time school starts in the fall, most have lost a month’s worth of lessons. Children from poorer families often lose more.

“Some students lose three or four months,” Farwell Principal Althea Walker said. “Very few students come back with no summer slide, especially the younger children in the early stages of literacy attainment.”

An easy way to fight that is to read with and to children, she said.

“Twenty minutes a day is all it’s going to take to avoid that,” Walker said. “Research has shown that 20 minutes a day is the most beneficial thing any parent can do, from birth to 18. It’s crazy that it’s so simple.”

Parents don’t need high skills, dozens of books or a degrees in education.

“You just need a book,” Walker said. “You can read the book 500 times; it doesn’t matter, as long as you’re reading and children are hearing that language, that predictability.”

She approves of the direction School Superintendent Bill Webster is going in building more summer programs at Lewiston schools. Farwell does not yet have a school-wide summer program.

While parents are cooking or doing laundry, they can ask children to act out their favorite part of the book that’s been read, Walker said. That flexes comprehension and recall muscles. Or, ask if they think a character in the story should have done what he or she did, and why or why not.

That helps develop critical thinking and analyzing skills.

While parents are busy driving to and from the store, cleaning or cooking, teacher Diane Nadeau recommends they read and play word and math games with their children.

“If you’re going to the beach, ask them to spell ‘blanket’ or ‘ball.’” Or ask children to guess what word a parent is thinking of, Nadeau said, adding that it’s OK to give hints. And ask children math questions.

Reading and those kinds of games “make a huge difference,” Nadeau said.

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