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Exclusive: Abbott Elementary’s Sheryl Lee Ralph Shares How To Help Children Avoid ‘Summer Slide’ & We’re Taking Notes

Since 2021, Sheryl Lee Ralph has played Barbara Howard — the no-nonsense kindergarten teacher who walks the straight and narrow and is led by her faith — on the hit series Abbott Elementary. The character is a guiding light for the younger teachers in the building, and when she leaves set, she doesn’t leave that spirit of mentorship behind. When we sat down with Ralph, she had just as much invaluable advice for parents across the country as she does for her Abbott colleagues.

One issue Ralph is passionate about is the unfortunate but very real phenomenon called “summer slide.” Over the summer, students tend to lose some of the skills they spent the past school year building up. Ralph says that parents tend to figure that once the kids go on summer vacation, all they have to do is wait until the new school year to start learning again.

“No, help your child to stay on point on their class level,” she tells SheKnows. “Get assignments for them to do in the summertime or get them into a class so that they don’t suffer from the summer slide. Very often students come back to school for the next school year not as prepared as they were when they left back in May or June.”

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