Many older students find work at seasonal jobs, take part in school football, band, and cheer camps and fill their time productively. However for some children, summer time can be a brain-drain loss of scholastic skill or mind-numbing boredom watching television or tending younger siblings.
After nearly 100 years of study, Duke University found that, on average, all students lose about a month of progress in skills during the summer months. This shouldn’t be shocking to anyone who gives up their exercise work-out regime for three months and then tries to jump back in with the same intensity. For struggling students, the loss of progress can be just another u-turn in their quest to keep up with their peers.
Should summer be abolished in favor of more classroom time? We are a long way from the agrarian roots that set the traditional school schedule.
It could be argued that the best kind of summer learning is creative learning, where change is easy. In fact, bureaucracy of a school district could stifle innovation. Perhaps the best option for enhanced summer learning could come from non-profit organization, uniting to provide options in neighborhood settings for children who can’t afford expensive summer programs.
In Indianapolis, where the graduation rate hovers dismally around the 50 percent mark, 11 charitable organizations have pooled resources to support nearly 200 programs. In Cincinnati, a grass-roots program works out of 16 neighborhood schools. In rural Appalachia, an entire community pitches in – restaurants, the local hospital, the fish and game department – resulting in more than half of the participants showing a full letter grade improvement when school starts in the fall.
The Davis County Library system offers popular summer programs and many cities offer art programs. Now is the time for more local groups to experiment, innovate, and squeeze more out-of-the box learning into the summer months. We can’t afford to allow children to get farther behind while the summer passes them by.