We all need to take breaks – even our energetic kids! But how often do we take a 2-month break when we’re feeling tired? There is mounting research suggesting that such a long break can have adverse effects a child’s retention of knowledge acquired during the school year. So kids are missing out on a huge amount of learning potential every summer.
Researchers are paying more and more attention to what is now being called “summer learning loss”. The research suggests that kids not only stagnate during the sunny months, but they also lose a significant amount of what they learned from the previous school year. To make matters worse, kids who languish in the summer will almost always have trouble getting started when the new school year begins.
The History of Summer Vacation
Summer is often the most fun time of year, offering families an unusually large amount of time to spend together. A look at the data, though, might make one think that although we consider these long breaks normal, it might not necessarily be what’s best for a growing mind.
In fact, long summer vacations weren’t always so. Before the 1860s, many children had to miss school to work with their families on farms during the summer months. Among other factors, this led legislators to begin pushing for mandatory summer breaks from school. In 1842, Detroit’s schoolyear lasted 260 days. Compare that to today’s 180-day school year - what a difference!
In fact even today, long summer vacations from school are not the norm around the world. We’re not suggesting that we should lengthen the school year back to 260 days, but a summer learning strategy should be something that parents think about with regularity every year.
The Stats on Summer Learning Loss
Here are 3 major summer learning loss stats to consider:
- Students will lose 2.6 months of math computational skills over the summer.
- Students will lose 2 months of reading skills over the summer (on average).
- By 6th grade, students will lose more than 18 months of learning due to summer learning loss.
Hold on to your hats – these stats are a lot to take-in. In a study by Brock University, it was found that students will lose 2.6 months of math computational skills over the summer. To spell that out clearly, the summer will erase a third of the computation skills your child built up over the schoolyear. Yikes!
The stats on reading are a little less dire, but still extremely significant: 2 months of reading skills lost over the summer. If left unchecked, by 6th grade, students can lose more than 18 months of learning due to summer learning loss.
How to Promote Summer Learning
Despite how alarming those statistics are, there’s a lot that can be done to make summer learning possible:
- Parents can facilitate the summer learning process
- Only 2 months of subject focused learning can prevent learning loss in the summer
- Consistently learning throughout the year can prevent summer learning loss
Parents play a key role in filling the gaps for children over the summer. Since the assistance of teachers is absent during the summer, parents will need to fill that void. Luckily it doesn’t take much to create a ‘world of math and reading’ for your children. Simple methods like asking your kids to help you measure ingredients while baking and encouraging some summer reading is all it takes. Check out our Summer Learning Checklist.
In a study by Johns Hopkins University, it was concluded that 2 months of focused learning is all it takes to improve specific skills. At Kumon, we can help fill that requirement with either our math or reading program (or both!). Summer is actually a great time to enroll children in the program because the reduced work-load in the summer will make it easier to establish a routine that can be continued throughout the rest of the year.
Doing a little bit every day - even in the summer - is one of the cornerstones of the Kumon Method, and leads to long-term success! We hope this summer will be your kids’ smartest yet.
Did you know about summer learning loss before reading this article? Let us know in the comments below!
Want to learn more about summer learning loss? Share this infographic and let's make this the smartest summer ever! Take a look below (or click here to view it full-sized in another tab)
If you are looking for ways to give your child an academic boost, you're in the right place! For more information on how Kumon can help your child improve their math skills this school year, visit a centre near you.