A recent Saline Post article about implementing a balanced calendar year was published, and open for comment. This found me reflecting on summer learning loss, and what can be done to prevent it.
The term “summer slide” was first identified and coined in 1906, as described by this New York Times article, to highlight the detrimental impact that 3 months of lethargy have on the education of American children. For over 100 years, study after study has confirmed that indeed there is a tremendous learning loss in children, including one study published by John Hopkins University, showing an average of 2 months of loss in reading, and 2.6 months in mathematics. Furthermore, this results in teachers having to reteach materials to students for the first 4-6 weeks of school.
Unfortunately, the loss of summer learning is not transient. This “slide” effect can accumulate over the years, and result in decreased performance, cumulatively impacting students’ grades as they attempt to graduate high school and even college. Currently less than 10% of American students participate in summer education, (as published by Rutgers) some of these being forced to do so, just to keep up with their current grade level.
I was surprised to find that most dissent regarding a balanced calendar was from parents not wanting to disturb their children's summer vacations, or further burden teachers’ schedules. Parents often describe difficulty in engaging their children throughout the 3 months of summer vacation. Studies have shown that implementing a balanced calendar reduces “burnout” displayed in both students and teachers (as shown in this Education weekly article). Summer learning loss can explain up to 50% of the reason low income students struggle, and even drop out of school at a higher rate than their middle to upper income peers.
Thankfully, there are proactive steps that parents can take to combat this learning loss, and not all of them cost money.
Journal. Children as young as kindergarten, can keep a summer journal. Highlight observations, which is the first step of any scientific mind! Include a new vocabulary word every day. This could be beneficial to older students who are studying for standardized tests.
Read. Start a reading club, with other students, or within your family. Read a new book every week, or every other week. This can include graphic novels, many of which require a higher vocabulary, but can more easily engage a student who does not like to read.
Travel. There is no need to travel far. Hike locally, and take a book and discover new species of birds, trees or insects. Every experience outside your home can be one of new experiences and learning.
Enroll. There are summer camps, and summer classes offered locally, that can help engage a student’s mind and combat learning loss.
Shadow. For older students, find out if there is a program, or internship opportunity that you can get involved in, that can support your future education.
Although there are data abound to suggest that summer learning loss is a core part of the American education, it can be avoided with continued engagement and learning!
At Simplex Academy, we strive to empower all of our students, to take control of their success. Contact us with any questions, and follow us on facebook at facebook.com/simplextutoring.
Enjoy the sun, and let your mind shine!