April 5, 2016

Summer Learning Loss is Real!

Heard about summer learning loss? This is likely a new term for parents and an all too familiar challenge for educators. Summer learning loss refers to loss of knowledge and skills over summer vacation.

Here’s how summer learning loss begins…

During summer months, many families opt out of academic summer activities. They are so excited to have a break from the "school year" there’s next to no time spent on reading about current events or practicing math skills. Instead, people prefer to reconnect on family vacations, plan cookouts with friends, and relax at home. 

Though you may not have heard of summer learning loss, you’ve likely experienced it. The week-long trip to the theme park… plus weekly trips to grandma’s house… combined with baseball and girl scout camps... may leave little time during summer months to review mastered skills and build weaker ones. By early August, anxieties swell. Parents hustle to secure copies of books, and fears of starting a new school year rise in students. A couple months into the semester, everyone is overwhelmed – teachers, parents, and students alike.

Summer Matters

What is it really?

First Lady Michelle Obama launched United We Serve: Let’s Read, Let’s Move in 2010 to encourage Americans to fight the summer reading gap (also known as summer learning loss). This effort is borne out of the fact that youth who do not read during the summer can lose months of academic progress.

The U.S. Department of Education reports that “for far too many children, reading achievement either stalls or becomes worse when schoolwork stops during the summer”.

It seems the magic number is 5! From the research published by the Department of Education to that published by RAND Corporation, reports confirm that children who read at least five books during summer months begin the school year on track.

Stopping the Summer Slide

Understand the impact
  • Math and spelling are the areas most affected by summer learning loss with students losing an average of 2.6 months (nearly 80 days) of math knowledge and skills along with an average of 2 months (60 days) of spelling knowledge and skills.
  • Teachers spend 4 to 6 weeks (about 30 days) re-teaching material students have forgotten. Addressing the effects of summer learning loss causes teachers to lose ground  when it comes to preparing students to meet benchmarks.
  • You may be thinking… families and educators that survive Fall months are in the clear... they’ve won the battle with summer slide. Though possible, it’s not always the case. This phenom doesn’t just impact performance in the Fall semester. High school curriculum placement and dropout rates are directly related to accumulation of aforementioned challenges.

Read at least 5 books over summer.

Take Action

Identify summer camps that emphasize academics. Locate summer courses that are convenient to attend; this may mean registering for an online course you’ve considered. Teaching others is also a great way to sharpen skills. Students volunteer with organizations like United Way to help peers and younger learners build skills over the summer in many communities.

Sports and the arts are vital to rearing well-rounded young people. Any environment that cultivates student desires offers a quality learning experience. But, we want to keep academics in the mix. It’s imperative that students strengthen literacy, math, and science skills during summer months.

Jackson Education Support has a history of supporting learners in literacy, math, and science year round. Support options include private tutoring, online tutoring, and small group events. If you’re in the Jackson, Mississippi metropolitan area, consider registering your child for Summer Saturday Camps. The Math Camp is scheduled for June 2016, and the Literacy Camp is scheduled for July 2016. Parents of learners entering grades 3 - 5 in Fall 2016 are invited to register here.