Blog Post by Corie Watson

It’s almost summertime! The moment we have all been waiting for! For most, summer is a highly anticipated, fun time of the year with no school, warm weather, swimming, and vacations. Summer has so many opportunities for discovery and learning, but many children suffer from learning loss, or what is sometimes referred to as the “summer slide”, over the summer break. Summer learning loss has been researched for over 100 years, and it is becoming a big issue in today’s educational news. A lot of children do not get many, if any, educational opportunities during these months. They don’t get to go to museums, read books, or even play outside. Without these opportunities, children can’t practice the skills they’ve acquired. Consequently, their brains begin to lose the valuable information they’ve learned over the past school year.

Children of low-income families experience the most loss, which is about three months’ worth of academic knowledge. That is almost one-third of a school year! They lose more than two months in reading achievement, while their middle-class peers experience slight gains in this same area. The achievement gap in schools is due to these unequal summer opportunities, since children from low-income families may not have the means to get the experiences that put these skills to use.

The degree of learning loss varies depending on a few factors, such as grade level, subject, and family income, but the average summer loss for all students is one month. Standardized test scores have been shown to be lower when taken at the end of the summer break rather than at the beginning. Youth of all economic statuses experience the most loss in procedural and factual knowledge, such as math and spelling. In math, they lose on average 2.6 months of grade level equivalency. Once again, this is a third of their school year!

This is one “slide” we don’t want children going down. This “slide” is not fun, yet many children are facing the negative effects of it. The good news is there are ways to avoid it and make these effects have a smaller impact on learning, such as modifying school calendars, offering more programs for low-income students, and encouraging free, simple activities for all children to do over the summer to avoid or slow learning loss. Kaplan’s ThinkStretch Summer Learning Program and the Links to Literacy Summer Fun Book Set are great ways to keep students engaged academically over the summer! Check them out!

Sources:
http://www.rif.org/us/literacy-resources/articles/primer-on-summer-reading-loss.htm
http://www.summerlearning.org

About the Author: Corie Watson is a summer intern for Kaplan Early Learning Company's Marketing and Merchandising Departments. She is a student at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC.