Prevent Summer Learning Loss
The lazy days of summer are upon us once again. As students head into the summer months, they anticipate long days filled with friends, television and video games. This lack of structured learning can cause “summer learning loss,” which refers to the loss of academic skills and knowledge over the course of the break.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, teachers spend an average of four to eight weeks every fall reviewing and reteaching material students have forgotten during the summer break. Most lose the equivalent of two months of reading and math skills during the summer and do not score as well on standardized tests as students who continue to learn during the summer. This effect is cumulative: Each summer a student isn’t learning adds up, and can have a longterm impacton overall performance in school. There are several ways parents can help prevent summer learning loss: Parents can search for free or low-cost, high-quality summer learning programs. Research shows students who take part in high-quality summer learning programs that combine academics and physical activity benefit from improvements in academic achievement and readiness to learn. A parent can encourage reading by visiting the local library and helping the child put together a summer reading list. Most libraries sponsor summer reading clubs with goals for preschool and school-aged children.
“One of several summer programs the Ocean Springs school district has is a district-wide Summer Reading Program in which students are encouraged to read over the summer and track their reading progress,” said Lori Brennan, Ed.S., Literacy Curriculum Coordinator with the Ocean Springs School District.
“They complete a questionnaire on each book read, and during the first week of the new school year, students will present their tracking sheets and questionnaires to their Media Center specialists to earn incentives,” Brennan said. Creative writing is a great way to improve a child’s written language skills. Buy your child a journal, which he or she may decorate. The child can then write down things that happen throughout the day. Parents can also encourage their children to write to distant family members about summer activities.
Museum visits can provoke imagination, introduce unknown worlds and subject matter, and offer unique environments for quality learning time.
There are many different types of museums families can explore during the summer. Children’s museums are very popular because of the interactive exhibits. Natural history museums offer exhibits of prehistoric life, nature and science. Art museums encourage creativity within children and allow them the chance to connect, understand, and explore perceptions, feelings and innovative thoughts.
Before you head out on your family vacation this summer, pull out a map and show the destination to your child. Review with your child the roads and interstates you will take and the cities you will drive through. Ask your child to estimate how long the trip will take and discuss whether your vacation spot is east or west of your home. Print maps of the states you are traveling through so your kids can draw your route as you go. Most kids enjoy learning about the different topography of an area – will there be mountains, lakes or beaches? Will the climate be warm or cold?
With a little time and planning, parents can advance their children’s learning, health and wellbeing over the summer months. Setting aside only half an hour to an hour daily over the summer can help students perform at higher levels during the upcoming school year.
Ashley Schafer Karcher lives in Ocean Springs with her husband and four children.