Summer vacation seems like an inextricable part of culture in the United States. Sleepaway camp, sports activities, and lazy days of relaxation seem synonymous with childhood. While the summertime offers many enriching opportunities for children, possible gains are often offset by proven educational losses.
Research shows that students lose literacy skills over the summer break when they are not engaging in supplemental educational activity. A meta-analysis of more than a dozen studies examining students from first to ninth grade found that upon their return to school in the fall, students performed an average of one month behind where they were in the spring. Our former first lady, Michelle Obama, once addressed this problem:
“Summer shouldn’t just be a vacation. Instead, it should be a time to get ahead, to branch out and learn new skills, to have new experiences, like acting in a play or doing some outdoor learning. And for anyone who’s fallen behind, it’s a time to catch up on lessons they missed…and of course, you’ve got to read, read, read!”
Student age and socioeconomic status has an influence over the amount of summer learning loss a child experiences. When first entering school, students from households in different income brackets didn’t differ much in terms of summer learning. However, the difference increased drastically as grade levels rose.
Low-income students became more likely to lose reading and math skills than their higher income peers, while higher income students were shown to be more likely to make gains. This has a domino effect. As the low-income child ages, the farther he or she falls behind as a result of repeated summer learning loss.
But why does socioeconomic status play such a starring role in disparate levels of summer learning loss? The answer may be the relative accessibility of technology and the educational opportunities it provides. Educational technologies equipped with the right strategies can help close the accumulated achievement gap between peers. It can also target students who need it the most, working to improve not only reading and math skills, but also qualities as school attachment, motivation, and their relationships with adults and peers.
Educational technology may be the key to making material fun and more relatable to children. This will help not only when playing summertime catch-up, but also in igniting a child’s thirst for learning. That’s Genius Plaza’s mission – to link recreation and learning.
We work to develop technology to make enjoyable learning accessible to all kids, so they can return to school in the fall refreshed from a summer break, but also ready to tackle the challenges of the school year using not only the skills that have honed, but also their freshly ignited hunger for learning. We are proud to be a part of the effort to develop new technologies to democratize education for all children.
Parents often ask how they can help their children with summer learning. The most vital thing a parent can do is adapt a positive attitude for the children to mirror. The parents’ attitude toward summer learning will be transferred to the student. They must also help their children to not fall into the trap of complacency. A student may perform well in school during third grade, but this doesn’t ensure the absence of struggle later.
Coasting on current academic success without emphasizing improvement may discourage the student from working hard and developing healthy student habits. This type of student could benefit remarkably from a summertime education program, to not only continue to challenge themselves, but also reduce anxiety in regards to the upcoming school year.
Research shows that even a single summer spent using a quality educational program will show a significant improvement in a student’s skills in various areas including math, language arts, and others. It is recommended that the program last at least five weeks to allow the student the chance to reap all the benefits provided by the educational pioneers who are working hard to provide targeted educational materials in an effort to further the cause of educational equality.
Vacation time should not be devalued, but it shouldn’t come at a detriment to learning. The games, exercises, and educational literature available through Genius Plaza are developed specifically to keep education engaging, enriching, and easily available to students. Summer should be time for fun–but fun and learning need not be mutually exclusive.