Ways to Continue Learning in Summer to Help Youth Succeed

June 09, 2016

Summer is here. 

That time of year when students  (and teachers!) get to spend their days away from school.  These longer, sunny days present countless opportunities to engage in fun in the sun, trips with family and friends, and sleeping in.  It is “Summer Vacation” after all. 

Summer  Learning Youth

 In a study done by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, researchers found that students – regardless of economic status – made similar gains during the school year.  However, students from families of a higher income class held steady or improved during the Summer, while students of a lower-income class fell back.  By 9th grade, about two-thirds of the achievement gap could be contributed to this Summer learning loss.  This pattern continued each Summer and was likely due to the fact that the students who fell behind did not have access to Summer learning programs.

Jeff Smink quotes this study in his New York Times article “This Is Your Brain On Summer” and argues for improved Summer School programs, with increased funding.  David Von Drehle also uses this information in his TIME Magazine article to promote Summer Programs, especially those built in the community. 

The majority of schools in America follow the 180-day school year,  so what can be done for students during the Summer?  

  1. Grow the biggest zucchini in your neighborhood
  2. Clip, paste, and write about your family adventures
  3. Get theatrical
  4. Make chocolate mousse or build a bird feeder
  5. Paint the picket fence, baby-sit, or volunteer at a soup kitchen

These five suggestions, out of the 10 listed in this Great Kids article, encourage learning in experiential and adventurous ways: gardening, arts, drama, hands-on skill building, and volunteering.  Learning in the Summer months does not have to be only worksheets and book reports, but can also be ways to keep the brain active to apply learning that is done during the school year to real-life activities and goals.  For example, providing the opportunity to learn about gardening can teach a child about science, sustainability, responsibility, and environmental concerns, all while helping the child to participate in trial-and-error learning to see what will help a plant grow the best (with the hopeful end result of a healthy and delicious snack!).  

It is possible that children can be presented with academic, social, and emotional learning year round, in ways that can benefit them, not hold them back.  Take the time today to see what Summer options are available for youth in your area and get involved in their learning.  

School to Career Progressions: www.Progressions.us  

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