What is "summer learning loss"?
It's May and the mood at the academy is palpable, a mixture of exhaustion and excitement. Exams, end-of-the-year projects, school dances and games, plus a myriad of other activities have pushed our students to their limits. It seems everyone wants to share their summer plans. The beach, volleyball camp, visiting colleges, visiting relatives on the east coast. They can't wait for the chance to give their minds a break. But is this a good idea?
Over the past few decades, a growing body of research suggests not. In an effort to understand the achievement gap between low-income and high income students, researchers began to look at the study habits of the two groups. What they found was not that the high-income students received a better education, it’s that they received continual education throughout the year. The high-income students could afford the summer enrichment activities that challenged them intellectually, allowing them to transition back to the academic rigors of the school year at a much faster rate. Students without the summer enrichment opportunities spent the first months of the school year reviewing what had been covered last year and losing as much as two and a half months of class time to relearn what they had lost.
The phenomenon of "summer learning loss" has been widely documented among education researchers over the past decade. Researchers at the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University found that "without ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, kids fall behind on measures of academic achievement over the summer months." A RAND study concluded that a good summer program with individualized instruction, parental involvement and small classes can keep children from falling behind during these crucial months.
So what can be done? Ideally, sending your child to a learning center with personalized programs or a summer camp that focuses on their needs will keep their brain activated and ready to work when the new school year arrives. Parental involvement is also key. Spending 15-30 minutes a day reading with your child can help them strengthen their reading abilities. Ask your child what they are interested in and help them explore it. Keeping them engaged in the learning process throughout the summer will give them the continual education that will keep your child one step ahead when the new school year starts.