Avoiding Summer Slide – Keep your kids’ learning on track

Ever wonder if your kids are losing it, quite literally, over the summer? We hear parents say it and educators seem to know it’s true, but what about scientists? Does the research support the notion that kids lose academic retention over summer? And if so, how much? It turns out that yes, kids do lose a lot of knowledge over the summer, but mostly in math. The argument is that they may have more opportunities to practise reading than math at home. More accurately, math is one of those computational skills that requires a careful set of procedures to be followed. And any discipline that requires the retention of processes really degrades over summer vacation. It’s just more noticeable in math (Cooper & Sweller, 1987).

If kids are actually losing skill sets over the summer, how much do they forget? How much review is required when they return in the fall? Here, researchers disagree on how much. One American study suggests that the average student loses up 2.6 months of grade equivalency (Reading Is Fundamental from www.rif.org) while another study shows test scores are at least one month of grade equivalency lower after summer holidays (www.ldonline.org). While the amount of loss varies, most researchers agree that retention over summer is poor.

So, what can you do to help your kids? Consider summer school? We can hear the collective groan from students across the county as they think about sitting in stale classrooms while the sun is shining. Consider alternatives, like S.M.A.R.T. Camp where we stimulate kids’ minds, bring them to new outdoor environments, and allow them to practise computational skills for fun and practical reasons. It’s one way to help keep your kids on track for the fall.