Though kids dream through the school year about long summer days with absolutely nothing to do, there is a significant downside to the months spent avoiding all things educational.
“What we see around the country is teachers working extraordinarily hard, children working hard, and they get to a certain point academically in June and over the summer, they lose that. They come back to [teachers] in September further behind then they were when they left,” explained Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, in an interview on summer learning and the structure of the school calendar on the U.S. Department of Education website.
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According to the National Summer Learning Association’s website, children lose an average of two months of grade level equivalency in mathematic skills over the summer. Children from lower-income families have been found to lose more than two months in reading achievement, which is considered a result of less access to learning opportunities.
“We do know that kids lose ground over the summer. It’s a long time of the year to be out of school,” said Marc Winger, Superintendent of the Newhall School District, who suggests that families make regular visits to the library, review math flashcards, or visit museums, “So, when they come back to school, there isn’t as much time spent on review.”
A family education website (to visit it, click here) offers suggestions of ways to keep your children’s minds working during the summer and ready for the school year. The ideas include keeping books available to kids, trying to plan family vacations around educational opportunities, finding ways to refresh kids’ math skills, and calling your school’s curriculum coordinator to know what to prepare your child for.
For a list of suggested summer learning tools from the National Summer Learning Association’s website, click here.
While parents’ budgets and available time to put their kids in educationally enriching summer activities may vary, Winger said, “The single most powerful thing parents can do is to read to and with their kids each day.”
“Kids really need to maintain their reading throughout the summer to both increase their fluency in reading and to increase their enjoyment. The more fluent they are, the more they comprehend, and the more they will enjoy it,” described Kelly Behle, Youth Services Coordinator for the City of Santa Clarita Public Library.
Santa Clarita Public libraries are offering summer reading programs for all ages, from babies to adults. The program for readers in elementary school allows kids to determine their reading goals, keep a record of their progress, and win prizes including books and coupons for local businesses such as passes to the Aquatics Center.
Teens and adults who reach their reading goal are entered into a drawing for a NOOK Reader’s Tablet.
“Schools need to focus on certain things in their reading education, but here at the library, we can focus on their enjoyment, which increases their comprehension,” added Behle.