Q: [School-Aged] After a year of hard work, my daughter can’t wait to forget all about school and have a summer of fun. I want her to enjoy childhood and relax on vacation, but I am hoping she doesn’t forget too much! Is Brain Drain a real thing?
A: As the academic school year comes to an end, students are squirming in their seats with the excitement and anticipation of summer and the fun that it promises. Beach days, family vacations, swimming pools and waterparks; activities that bring fun memories, social time with friends and a highly-anticipated break from the classroom.
Unfortunately, with all of the fun that summer has to offer, the gap between the end of one academic year and the beginning of the next can result in learning loss. Across the socioeconomic spectrum, many students return to school in the fall much worse off in mathematics and reading than they finished in the spring. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of learning in math and two months of reading skills over the summer. As a result, teachers need to give up weeks of class time to make up for that loss.
These gaps in learning may be particularly detrimental for students with lower academic achievements due to learning differences, lower socio-economic environments or learning in a secondary language. The learning loss can be even greater than average for these students during the summer months if academic learning comes to a screeching halt. Students of all learning abilities work too hard during the academic year to have their knowledge and skills regress.
Summer can present an opportunity for parents to introduce children to new experiences, emotional development and creative learning through real-world activities. Here are some suggestions to help you bridge the summer gap for your children:
- Read, Read, Read – Studies have shown that reading four-to-five books over the summer yields results comparable to attending summer school. The joy of summer reading is that children can select their books of choice. Whether you take them to the bookstore to purchase a book or the local public library for story time, reading exposure in all forms is beneficial. Of course there’s nothing more rewarding than reading with your children at bedtime.
- Real-Life Math – Help your children sharpen their math skills. Teach them about money and budgeting while shopping at the mall on a hot day. Take them to the grocery store and have shopping contests to see who can get the most for the money you allot them. Cook with your kids to sharpen their measuring skills.
- Summer programs can provide a variety of experiences that challenge children, develop their talents, keep them engaged, and expand their horizons. Summer school sessions, camps, sports and other various organized programs can be fun and beneficial to their educational retention from the previous year and prep them for the upcoming year.
- Technology – Turn the meaningless gaming into educational opportunities. With over 65,000 educational apps available for our technologically-consumed kids, there is no excuse for not incorporating learning into the summer cyber fun.
Don’t let your child fall victim to summer learning loss, which can hinder their academic readiness for the next grade level. Take advantage of the off-school months by engaging your children in mindful thinking and mental stimulation without the academic pressure.
Alicia Maciel, Exec Dir for non-profit The Prentice School (N Tustin), NHBWA Business Woman of the Year, earned her MBA from Harvard Business School. The nonprofit education-services leader ensures The Prentice School is a model of excellence for educating students with learning differences. www.Prentice.org