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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Summer Vacation: A Brain Drain on Children?

Research verifies that children’s summer vacation causes brain drain. They forget what they learned in school. There are ways to prevent such learning loss.

Brain drain is the term for the learning loss that many kids experience over the summer vacation from school. Educators and parents are seeking strategies to prevent learning loss during the vacation time.

Research Findings

Research shows that most students lose, on average, a couple of months of math skills during the summer break. Students coming from low income homes lose two to three months in reading skills. Middle class students, however, make slight gains in reading achievement as evidenced in standardized test scores.

The research findings suggest that children lose math computation skills when they don't use them and that middle-class students read more over the summer than those from poor families. One reason could be that middle class students have access to more books in their homes than those from lower income homes.

Research additionally shows that retention of what is learned during the school year is related to the greater variety of summer experiences for children from middle-class and higher income homes. Their exposure to summer camps, vacations, and learning experiences in their own homes, facilitated by their parents, helps to reduce the effects of brain drain. The lack of resources for poorer children in the summer has a huge negative impact on knowledge retention.

Strategies to Prevent Summer Learning Loss

Educators suggest that if the summer gap can be eliminated, we can close the longstanding achievement gap between richer and poorer kids. Even children from lower income families grow reading skills at about the same rate as middle-class kids, when they are in school. Most of the achievement gap occurs during the summers rather than during the school year. Educators believe the solution lies in closing the summer gap between the children from lower income families and children from families who have better incomes.

There is much value in summer learning programs for children to make up for the learning deficit. There are summer learning programs all across the United States that provide academic enrichment, physical exercise and healthy meals to children to better ensure academic success when they return to school.

Parents can help stave off their children’s brain drain by having them frequent the library in summer and by encouraging them to read.  In addition, parents can have their children use safe, educational Internet sites.
Sylvan Learning Centers offer free grade-appropriate math workbooks for children to use in the summer months. Some of the Sylvan Centers offer a camp-like learning environment with craft activities, brain teasers and video streaming of important world events. Parents should check their local newspapers and bulletin boards for educational summer camp offerings, such as writing workshops , computer camps, and theatre workshops.

Parents should also take advantage of opportunities to have their children use math skills. For example, if the children are swimming in the pool, parents can have them figure out the area, diameter, and volume of the pool. They can ask their children to compute how much the water in the pool would weigh at about 9 pounds per gallon. On road trips, parents can have their children figurethe trip mileage by using a map and adding up the distance as indicated on the map.

Parents should have their children handle and count money. Parents can teach children how to use and balance a check book. Such activities will lessen the brain drain of math skills, the curricular area that is most dramatically affected by the summer lapse from school.