Saturday, June 07, 2008

School's Out, but Not the Brain!

Use it or lose it! That's the call to summer learning. If your kids are not lucky enough to go to a "year round" school, then you will have to look for ways to stimulate their synapses for the next 10 weeks or so.

According to Dr. Ruth Peters, an MSNBC contributor, the facts about summer learning loss are indisputable:

  • All students experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
  • On average, students lose approximately 2.6 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.
  • Low-income children and youth experience greater summer learning losses than their higher income peers.
  • Students may not have the same structured meal schedule and access to nutritious meals during the summer.
  • Studies show that out-of-school time is a dangerous time for unsupervised children and youth.

    Important facts
  • Only about 10 percent of students nationwide participate in summer school or attend schools with non-traditional calendars.
  • A majority of students (56 percent) want to be involved in a summer program that “helps kids keep up with schoolwork or prepare for the next grade”.
  • Research shows that teachers typically spend between 4 to 6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
  • At least 11 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 12 care for themselves over the summer months (unsupervised).

(Read the rest of this article)

For some parents it seems easier to engage younger children in learning over the summer. We may struggle with what to offer the teenager, so they often find themselves unsupervised and unstimulated. When you think about summer learning, it's important to consider a few things:

1. Does your child have weaknesses that need shoring up?
2. Does your child have strengths that can be expanded?
3. Does your child have an interest in something he's never really explored before?

These are all good reasons to engage in summer learning. There may be face-to-face classes, camps, and institutes to sign up for, but there are also a wealth of online learning opportunities, especially for high school students.

Our children are doing two different things this summer. Our oldest is going to Notre Dame for a week in June and our youngest is taking two online classes to work ahead for graduation - a dual enrollment class at St. Petersburg College and one on the Florida Virtual School. They are both free tuition and the course count towards his graduation credits.

Whatever you decide to do, make sure that it is high interest and on a level your child can handle. This is not the time to engage in learning that is frustrating.

Use it or lose it! Let's make sure our kids don't lose it.