Bridging the Summer Gap to Prevent Learning Loss

By Alicia Maciel, MBA

Now that the academic school year has ended, students are ready to enjoy summer and all of the fun that it promises. Beach days, family vacations, swimming pools and waterparks; activities that bring fun memories, social time with friends and a highly anticipated break from the classroom.

Unfortunately, with all of the fun that summer has to offer, the gap between the end of one academic year and the beginning of the next can result in learning loss. Across the socioeconomic spectrum, many students return to school in the fall much worse off in mathematics and reading than they finished in the spring. On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of learning in math and two months of reading skills over the summer. As a result, teachers need to give up weeks of class time to make up for that loss.

These gaps in learning may be particularly detrimental for students with lower academic achievements due to learning differences, lower socio-economic environments or learning in a secondary language. The learning loss can be even greater than average for these students during the summer months if academic learning comes to a screeching halt. Students of all learning abilities work too hard during the academic year to have their knowledge and skills regress.

Well, here is the good news: Along with fun, summer can present an opportunity for parents to introduce children to new experiences, emotional development and creative learning, which may not be available to them during the school year. Here are some suggestions to help you bridge the summer gap for your children:

Read, Read, Read – Studies have shown that reading four to five books over the summer yields results comparable to attending summer school. The joy of summer reading is that children can select their books of choice. Whether you take them to the bookstore to purchase a book or the local public library for story time, it will be of great benefit to your child. Of course, there’s nothing more rewarding than reading with your children at bedtime.

Real-Life Math – Help your children sharpen their math skills. Teach them about money and budgeting while shopping at the mall on a hot day. Take them to the grocery store and have shopping contests to see who can get the most for the money you allot them. Cook with your kids to sharpen their measuring skills. All of these activities allow for bonding and hands-on experiences while keeping your kids’ minds stimulated.

Summer Programs – These can provide a variety of experiences that challenge children, develop their talents, keep them engaged and expand their horizons. Summer school sessions, camps, sports and other organized programs can be fun and beneficial to their educational retention from the previous year and prep them for the upcoming year. Of course, it’s a win-win for parents who work and need assistance with childcare.

Technology – Turn the meaningless gaming into educational opportunities. With more than 65,000 educational apps available for our technologically consumed kids, there is no excuse for not incorporating learning into the summer cyber fun.

Don’t let your child fall victim to summer learning loss, which can hinder their academic readiness for the next grade level. Take advantage of the off-school months by engaging your children in mindful thinking and mental stimulation without the academic pressure.

Alicia Maciel is executive director for The Prentice School. She was recently honored by the National Hispanic Business Women Association with the prestigious “NHBWA Business Woman of the Year” Award. She is committed to ensuring The Prentice School is a model of excellence for educating students with learning differences. Celebrating its 30-year Anniversary, The Prentice School is a private, nonprofit academic school located inTustin, serving students from all over Southern California, and is a Certified Nonpublic School through the California Department of Education, fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

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