Summer learning loss — a phenomenon you may have heard of before. It’s not just a way to poke fun at how quickly kids forget everything they’ve learned once school is out — it’s a real, observed issue that occurs to millions of children every year.
Previous studies estimate that the average child forgets about 2.6 months of mathematics education and 2 months of reading. In fact, a percentage of the achievement gap in reading that occurs later in high school has been traced back to summer learning loss.
Why does this happen? The current school schedule is based on an outdated system. In the beginnings of the public school system, the majority of Americans were involved in agriculture. Today, few Americans work on farms — and yet the long break persists.
So how can you combat summer learning loss in 2016?
Enroll Your Child in Summer Learning
For younger children, taking an academic preschool curriculum over summer can help them prepare for the rigors of grade school. About 75% of kids in the U.S are currently enrolled in a preschool program, yet the summertime is often ignored. Getting children involved in grade school readiness during July and August allows for a more smooth and prepared transition into their first year of grade school.
Research All Your Local Options
According to a recent study by the Afterschool Alliance, many students and parents want summer learning programs — they just don’t always have access to them because of location or finances. Luckily, preschools often cater to a wide range of demographics, and about 45% of children living below the federal poverty level are currently enrolled in preschool. It’s easy to assume that no summer program will fit your family’s requirements, but in many cases, the right program is out there.
Things to Look for in a Preschool for the Summer
There’s a difference between daycare and preschool. Preschool focuses on grade school prep. Daycare, on the other hand, is essentially the same thing as babysitting. Look for preschool education activities that focus on encouraging scholastic growth. It’s worth noting that 60% of at-risk youth were found to be less likely to go to college if they didn’t receive a quality preschool experience.
Make Frequent Trips to the Library
Not everything you do to combat summer learning loss needs to be a massive undertaking; sometimes, it can be as simple as visiting your local library. Middle income students actually experience slight gains in reading over the summer compared to their peers — and this typically relates back to the ability to access books through a library or bookstore. Preschool education activities often include reading time.
Whether it’s preschool education activities like reading a new book, or attending a summer learning class, there are ways to cut down on the effects of summer learning loss.