It’s Known as the Summer Slide: Parents and Students Seek Ways to Stay Academically Engaged Over Vacation
In the absence of formalized schooling during the summer months, students across the country experience a lapse in academic knowledge and ability in a variety of subjects. While researchers point to a number of reasons why some students aren’t exposed to intellectually engaging activities over the summer, all agree that those who continue their studies—either through clever and fun activities, or carefully designed services like those provided by Launch Education Group—develop habits that benefit them enormously in the future.
Santa Monica, CA (PRWEB) July 26, 2013
In the absence of formalized schooling during the summer months, students across the country experience a lapse in academic knowledge and ability in a variety of subjects. While researchers point to a number of reasons why some students aren’t exposed to intellectually engaging activities over the summer, all agree that those who continue their studies develop habits that benefit them enormously in the future. Creative parents and educational experts alike have developed clever and fun ways to integrate learning into students’ summer vacations.
Experts have linked the “summer slide” – academic regression that occurs over the summer – to the lack of intellectually and academically stimulating activities that students are exposed to during their vacations. Several studies over the past century have concluded that students generally perform worse on standardized tests after their summer breaks than they did on the same tests before their breaks. On average, students who did not participate in academic programs or engagements over the summer either showed academic growth, or lost anywhere between one to three months of learning. The areas in which students tended to slip the most were cumulative subjects, such as math computation, foreign language and spelling, with students losing an average of two months of grade level equivalency in these particular subjects. Because students tend to “slide” so much over the summer, the National Summer Learning Association reports teachers spend “approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year… re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.” Education experts like Launch Education’s Tim Urban recommend ways to avoid the summer slide and to keep the mind engaged in the absence of schoolwork.
Researchers have found that the lack of academic engagement and activity over students’ vacations is usually a result of either insufficient access or parents’ deliberate avoidance of educational activities.
Students from low-income families tend to have less access to summertime enrichment, particularly because they present yet another expense to their already strained financial situation. Additionally, in comparison to the free education that is provided during the school year, academic programs during the summer often require some type of funding on the part of families. As a result, Karl Alexander, Professor of Sociology, concluded that “about two thirds of the grade academic achievement gap between disadvantaged youngsters and their more advantaged peers can be explained by what happens during the summer of their elementary school years.”
Regardless of financial access, researchers have found that a main inhibitor of summertime academic activity is the romantic notion of summer vacation that is commonly held by parents, particularly in the US. Many parents feel that summer vacation should be a time of leisure rather than education, and as a result, they deliberately choose not to involve their children in academic activities. However, given the results of the numerous studies surrounding the phenomena known as the “summer slide”, researchers and experts recommend that parents reevaluate their notion of summertime education and enrichment.
Rather than subjecting children to the often monotonous nature of academics that occurs during the school year, experts urge parents to utilize summer vacation as an opportunity to engage their children in fun and exciting educational activities. Frequent trips to libraries, museums and observatories help to preserve and improve students’ reading and critical thinking skills while also offering a welcome alternative to days spent in front of the television. Students with particular interests can be kept captivated in educational exercises by incorporating them into their favorite activities. While fans of the culinary arts may keep their math computational and reading skills sharp while cooking with their parents, more athletic students can also hone their mathematical knowledge by comparing the statistics of their favorite sports teams and players. Educational games and apps on computers and tablets are also great resources for those who are more tech-savvy. And for all students, researchers and educators alike recommend at least 20 minutes of reading per day, regardless of subject matter or genre.
If daily activities like those previously mentioned are difficult to schedule for a parent, or if parents make the decision that they would like more academic enrichment over the summer, summer review and “preview” programs are great resources. Tutoring companies like Launch Education are often charged with picking up the slack where parents and the educational system drop off during summer months and “small individualized programs with parental involvement” have been found to be among the most effective methods for summer retention. Particularly because scheduling is so fluid during the break, summer vacation is a great opportunity to allow students to learn and study at their own individualized pace.
Students who engage in these types of practices over the summer are not only better prepared when they return to school in the fall, but tend to perform at a higher level throughout the school year as a result of their strong foundation. Furthermore, by maintaining strong study skills throughout the summer, students develop lifelong habits that benefit them enormously in the future. Particularly in college, studies have shown that students who exhibit persistent and long-term study habits like those nurtured while continuing to study over the summer, learn at a deeper level, perform better academically, and as a whole tend to report feeling less stress.
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