The standard nine month school year was designed to fit an agricultural lifestyle that's nonexistent today, at least for the majority of schools in the U.S.
While the long summer break may be a welcome respite for teachers and vacationing families, it can lead to substantial learning challenges for students in the fall, especially where math, reading and spelling skills are concerned.
Research shows that, on average, students experience about 2.5 months of learning loss during the summer, and that teachers typically spend between 4-6 weeks of the new school year re-teaching or reviewing material from the previous year.
These losses also tend to be cumulative. By sixth grade, a student who repeatedly loses reading skills over the summer could be an average of two years behind her classmates.
Some suggested solutions include extending the standard school year to be year-round, either by adding more required days or by changing the structure of vacation days to be intermittent weeks off, rather than months. Another alternative is summer school programs, which may not be available in all areas.
How Parents Can Keep Kids on Track
The good news is that reading just four to five books over the summer can prevent any appreciable decline in reading comprehension scores, and that this is especially effective when the students pick their own books.
More resources, from around the web:
- Make learning a game with these 10 educational apps
- Find a summer learning event near you
- 17 ways to avoid the summer slide
- How to beat summer learning loss
- Avoid the academic summer slide