Summer vacation presents an opportunity for students to enjoy an extended break from the classroom. While this respite from routine may be a welcome change to youngsters, teachers frequently lament that valuable educational lessons seem to be forgotten each summer. Educators then face tougher hurdles when students return to school in the fall.
Such a phenomenon is dubbed “summer learning loss,” but it can occur during any extended break from school. Scholars have realized for some time that students’ rate of academic development declines during summer vacation. Oxford Learning, a tutoring and education training group, offers these eye-opening statistics.
• Over the summer, students tend to lose 2.6 months of math skills and two months of reading skills.
• Summer learning loss can be seen in students as young as six.
• It can take up to two months from the first day of school to get students’ brain development back on course.
Summer learning loss, sometimes called “brain drain,” can be prevented. Proponents of year-round schooling at The National Association for Year-Round Education recommend a more balanced school year, where summer vacation lasts only 30 days and other school breaks are lengthened. In this scenario, the school year would still last about 180 days, but without the lengthy breaks.
Parents may prefer the status quo, and those who do can take several steps to prevent summer learning loss from affecting their children.
• Encourage more reading. Schools recommend summer reading lists, but students should also learn to read for pleasure. Research from the National Literary Trust indicates reading for pleasure can improve reading attainment and writing, as well as one’s general knowledge. Children can bring books to the beach that they can read between frolicking sessions in the waves.
• Enjoy family game nights. Games can be customized to highlight certain skills that require reinforcement. For example, math-centered games that require counting or addition can strengthen generalized math skills. Problem-solving board games may help children become better critical thinkers.
• Make vacations educational. Add travel to historical sites or other places of interest to help history come alive. When visiting new towns and cities, read the placards that explain important moments in history that took place in each town or city, making sure to include some thought-provoking areas of interest on your itinerary.
• Look for science moments. Trips to the seaside, parks and much more present myriad opportunities to learn about science. Children can stage their own experiments with items they find in nature, such as learning about tides, wind and water flow by sailing homemade boats.
• Teach kids through daily tasks. Barbecuing, making a cake, building a raised garden bed, seeding the lawn — each of these moments present educational opportunities for parents who want to keep their kids’ minds sharp during summer.
Children need not fall victim to summer learning loss when their days are filled with educational but fun activities.