For ages, kids yearn for summer to start as the year end comes near. Summer means warmer weather, outdoor fun, perhaps pool days or family trips too. But it has been proven that summer break is not necessarily beneficial for all children, especially those who do not have access to academic programs that will help keep their learning at level, and prevent a learning gap that can set them back in school – even causing bad test scores.
According to a study done at Concordia University in 2012, there is indeed a learning gap that occurs over the summer for most children in the United States. The two main reasons they state for this are:
Idle students: as more and more parents work and leave their kids home alone, or can’t afford or don’t wish to end them to a summer camp, children usually gravitate towards spending long days watching TV or playing on tablets. It is not usual that they worked on science experiments, practiced math, or read books.
Low income students: as mentioned before, middle and upper class parents who are more engaged in their children’s learning processes tend to sign them up for camp, classes or even tutors. Low income parents however worry more about providing food and shelter first, and put their children’s educational needs later in line of priorities. As the research paper says, a big (66 percent) of teens in the USA do not have access to summer educational opportunities. Regardless of their social-economic class, they tend to fall behind their peers who are pursuing educational goals during the summer.
Photo taken by Anna Arteaga
What are the benefits then of having summer education, or longer educational periods?
There is less to review once the new academic year starts, as all the material is relatively fresher in the minds of both students and teachers. That will help with transitioning into harder concepts.
There will be enough time to learn all the materials teachers wish to go over – and include field trips, experiments, etc.
Summer learning loss is reduced, and everyone will benefit from it since lower income children are expected to go to school regardless
Supporting this found information, Online Colleges (2017) has an interesting article on 15 critical facts about summer learning loss. Some of them include:
Students score lower grades on standardized tests at the end of the summer than at the beginning of summer
Students lose around 2 months of math they learned, during the summer
The children with the biggest losses are those with lower incomes
The traditional 9-month learning year was established when there was no air conditioning for the most part in the US, and most families worked in agriculture and such
11% of children between the ages of 6 and 12 in the US go unsupervised during the summer – leading to potentially dangerous situations
Not a lot of families have access to summer programs
Photo retrieved from http://www.summerlearning.org
We therefore researched a great site called the National Summer Learning Association, who’s vision is that “all children and youth have access to high-quality summer learning experiences to help them succeed in college, career and life”, while they precisely close this achievement gap.
They are actually the nation’s only nonprofit that works to close the achievement gap by providing summer learning opportunities for children and teens.
Therefore, it is evident that summer does indeed take a toll on children’s learning processes, leaving many behind when it comes to starting school again in the fall. But the US does offer parents with many opportunities to prevent these gaps from widening until school years last more than 9 months as some wish would happen.
Winner of Best of Boston 2017 by Boston Magazine. Now, imagine a place where children are encouraged to make mistakes, two-year-olds are learning how to play the violin, and teachers are encouraging children to explore the limits of their potential.