By Jim Roope, CNN
(CNN) – Some call it ‘the summer slide.’ Some call it ‘the summer brain drain.’ But whatever you call it, summer learning loss is a real phenomenon that has plagued students since summer vacations began.
Fourth-grade teacher Marian Valdez says that much of what kids learned in the 3rd grade they seem to forget over the summer.
Listen in as Jim Roope talks to teachers and students about summer:
“We spend the first couple of months, especially in math, reviewing, going back over the facts, time tests, those kinds of things,” said Valdez, who teaches at Washington Elementary in Los Angeles.
The first known report about summer learning loss came in a 1906 New York Times article by William White. He tested students in math before and after the summer and a found loss of skills. So for more than a hundred years, we’ve been trying to stop the summer knowledge leak.
A 2007 study by Johns Hopkins researchers shows that today summer learning loss can be tied to economic status. During the school year lower income children’s academic skills in Kindergarten through 4th grade improve at close to the same rate as those of their more advantaged peers. But over the summer, middle-and-upper income children’s skills continue to improve while lower income children’s do not.
“And that’s cumulative,” said Ron Fairchild, President and CEO of Maryland-based Smarter Learning Group. “Summer after summer, low income kids lose roughly two months’ worth of learned skills which accounts for a huge and significant learning gap over the course of the elementary school years,” Fairchild said.
“Part of it is access to resources,” said Regino Chavez, Director of Evaluation for L.A.’s Best, an after school and summer enrichment program.
He said summer enrichment programs are few and far between in low-income neighborhoods. And the programs that do exist have limited enrollment. Chavez said however there doesn’t have to be a formal program.
“Take the kids to the library. Let them get a library card and check out books,” said Chavez. “Play games at the grocery store. See who can tally up the groceries on the list fastest and correct. Point out geometric shapes on signs and billboards,” he said.
“Even the kids can do it on their own,” said teacher Valdez. “There are so many websites, for example with math. So instead of playing a video game they can be doing a math game and they can keep up on their skills that way.”
She does say that kids do have to rest and have fun in the summer. But keeping up the academic skills take just a few minutes a day and go a long way in creating a pattern of learning that will take them well into their college years.
Summer brain drain is a symptom of what is wrong with our public school system – a focus on facts and skills that are not made relevant to the real world instead of teaching kids how to learn. There's tremendous learning going on when kids are playing, and that includes video games. If we taught kids directly how to structure information, determine how it relates to other activities (you use math in games all the time...), and how to work together with each other in teams, we'd have a generation much more prepared to enter the workplace than those who diligently studied dinosaurs and clouds. My idea of a summer project? Keep a detailed journal about learning that video game.
I am also tired of sending my child to school for 7 hours a day and then having to fight with them to do 2 hours of homework in the evening and they are still not reading. What do they do in school for 7 hours a day and why do I have to spend quality time with my child doing the teacher`s job?
What are they doing?
They're travelling to school, waiting between classes, eating lunch, travelling back from school, waiting for the time alotted to learn each subject even if they have already figured it out, moving on the next subject even if they haven't figured it out, being picked on, picking on people, socializing, socializing, and socializing.
Occasionally they also learn stuff.
Sigh, yet most of what I see in the comments are "You" "They" "The Poor" "The Rich". When will we all realize that it's exactly that type of thinking that probably got us all here.. What happened to accountability? Parent's, pony up and realize that you have a child, they require work that will cause you to miss your pallotti's class or you will have to use what few precious minutes you have between jobs to make sure that they are on track. I grew up without much money and my parents worked all day long, when they saw me at home, they were parents that realized that THEY had the greatest influence on me, as I do for my kids.. Stop trying to find your problems in others and owe up to your responsibilities.
Time to do away with summer vacations at all education levels. They should go to school year round with a week off for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Spring Break, and Fourth of July. This 3 months off crap is the one of the reasons our schools are falling behind. Most private schools employ the strict scheduling and guess what? Many of those kids go to college because they don't take 3 months off to play video games and become stupid.
I don't know what it is like to grow up in a large city, or even solidly in the middle of suburbia, but for kids growing up in rural areas or in mixed suburban/rural environments, the summertime can be a huge enrichment program that is fun and self-directed. Want to learn about nature? Go for a walk in the woods. Observe or study and collect insects or rocks. Grow a garden. Get a job working on a farm. Take up running or fishing or long distance biking or shoot 500 jump shots a day. Go camping. Catch a baby rabbit. Get stung on purpose by a bumblebee. Read Asimov or the Hunger Games or Narnia or Tolkien or a book on the planetary system or a book on your favorite art movement. All stuff you can't do while filling out two pages of emphasis/accent marks in the stupid blue workbook. The last thing many kids need is more of the same-old ineffective packaged school crap potentially taught by mediocre teachers in stifling environments. Summer IS education. It is time to sort out the wheat from the chaff of what was encountered during the school year and to do it at your own pace and in your own way.
There are a lot of activities a lower income child can do during the summer, but not always ways for them to do it. My mom worked two jobs all year, and wasn't ever able to take me to the library, or get a computer so I could use it for school related things.
Our elementary school implemented a "Summer Scholars" program. The kids got a packet at the end of the year to complete during the summer. It literally took 5 to 10 minutes per day, maybe 3 days per week. Depending on how the parent and child broke it down during the summer. You should have heard the moans and complaints from parents...not just the kids, but the parents...about how this was ruining their summer. I was thrilled...both my husband and I are teachers, so we had planned to do stuff with the kids over the summer anyway-now I didn't have to create a curriculum!! Most in our neighborhood left it to the last minute, or didn't finish it at all. Way to show your kids that learning isn't important. 10 minutes, 3x a week won't hurt anyone. We also incorporated our summer trip into the project (project being-go somewhere historic in your neighborhood and write a paragraph on it) so our kids had a great paper, with pictures, on our trip to Gettysburg that summer. At the award ceremony in the fall for all the students who finished the packet (not nearly half) my kids got a special distinction for their hard work. And it didn't take any more out of them than the other kids. And they have so much more confidence in their school work going in to each new school year. It's a no brainer....they aren't going to school in the summer, just a couple of things a week to reinforce learning.
These kids will never succeed because of the mentality of the idiot parents. You could offer it on a silver platter, but unless it requires taking inly, they won't do it. LAZY underachievers, all of them.
Your idiotic comment with its blanket evaluation is trash. do the world a favor; if you're going to make an ignorant and hateful comment about people in situations you know nothing about, RUN A SPELL CHECK BEFORE POSTING IT. It will require removing your cranium from your anus.
My parents made me read books, taught me about managing money, made me write until my handwriting was almost flawless, and even gave me some math problems during the summer.
your parents hated you
To be able to compete worldwide, we need to have our students in school more hours each day, and more days each year. Lengthen the school year by at least 20 school days, and lengthen the school day by at least 1 hour. This would reduce the summer brain drain and give teachers more time with our students.
Wrong. We don't need to give kids more time with their teachers. Parents need to take responsibility for their childrens' education. Stupid kids come from stupid parents. I want my kids with me, and I can teach them much more one on one than a teacher can in a class of 20.
you hate kids
and as a person that grew up in korea (a country with the higest suicide rate) i can tell you that this is not a good idea
I don't think we need to lengthen the school day. Teachers need more planning time. Kids, especially at the elementary level, cannot really take a longer day. The idea of more school days is great, and of course we need less priority on high stakes testing and more on learning the skills that we need to be learning. We need to decrease the length of the summer vacatuion. We could easily do this by doing a one month summer vacation, a one month winer vacation and then two weeks each for fall and spring. This gives a break, without so much time that the kids lose so much of what they learned.
Of course, if you want to increase the length of the school year, teacher will have to be paid more because they are working more days.
JIM: Please fix the subject/verb agreement in the last sentence. Come on, man– summer just started!
No amount of money being thrown in this crumbling educational system will change crappy parenting.
Repatriating all illegal aliens would help out a lot.
How would that help at all?? How do you manage to turn this into yet another immigration discussion
Basically: Good parents aren't doing enough for the kids of bad parents.
that about sums it up.
Exactly. Lazy, self-absorbed parents are not engaging with their children to their utmost abilities and there's no way around that modern American, cultural reality. My family was, truly, dirt poor when I was a child (and this was as recent as the 80's and 90's, not distant memories of growing-up in the "Dust Bowl" during The Great Depression) and we basically lived at the library and local parks during the summer. We would be given stacks and rolls of waste paper bought at the local dump to draw on.
We'd take the workbooks that schools were going to throw away and do the activities for fun. We played sports and games outdoors, built forts out of scraps and played around trees. Our big splurges, were board games that we'd spend hours doing and the handful of times we went camping at a campground. This was all around my Dad working at a factory full-time and my Mother working at a hospital part-time. But nomatter what, nomatter how little we had, my Mother read to us at night and made a point of doing the best she could for us.
The local kids would make fun of us because we'd have apples and peanut butter or celery for snacks, while they were crunching-on pre-packaged junk. But my Mom wasn't going to waste the little resources we had on starting us off with poor nutrition and no skills to learn, to explore, to think for ourselves. We've all since gone into technical and hard sciences, some coupled with the application to social services, as well as have won major arts awards. We all understand empathy - understand exactly how difficult life can be, what people sometimes endure despite thier best intentions - and have compassion and patience with others. Parents must step-up. They must think of their investment of time and energy into their children, to be the most significant job of their lives. A decade. That's how long childhood is, before kids begin growing-up and are more seriously influenced by others and heavily influenced by pop culture. Character and basic skills are, either, cemneted by then or kids will grow-up to find themselves incompatible with human society and struggling just to make any sense of the World around them. Blink and you'll miss it.
Take advantage of the services our society provides for poor kids, struggling parents. Go to libraries, teach your kids about respecting public property and returning things on time, as well as how to love the World of reading. Go to State and local parks, trails, free museums. Be creative. Your kids deserve the effort and you won't regret it.
As usual, shifting blame.
I was a poor kid growing up. Was never a problem for my siblings or myself. We were required to read and perform some type of school work by our parents. RESPONSIBLITY plays a big part...and "poor" has nothing to do with it!
Ya think maybe the reason you have to review math for 2 months is because unless you are going into a field where you will use math every day, YOU DON"T USE IT DAY TO DAY!
I am tired of changing the education system to accommodate the disadvantaged. We used to have reading groups and all of the kids strived to get into the top reading group. Now there is research that if the entire class does the same thing, it raises the level of lower readers. Unfortunately, the top readers never get to strive ahead. I don't believe kids are learning more than we did when we were kids. They just learn it in a different order. Then there is the "new math". Teachers say they want parental involvement in the schools. Then they change the way it is done to secure their own jobs and many can't help their kids because they can't figure it out. They also don't count homework that parents oversee and then change it up on the papers in school to "see what the kid knows". You can't have it both ways. The reason that our kids are "dumber" than kids from other countries is because the smarter kids are not separated out and moved forward (no gifted education does not count, it is interest based ratehr than academics). My kid was average in elementary for these reasons. No teacher EVER encouraged him to strive. It was even discouraged. In middle school he was on the honor roll. Our schools are socialist systems and until that changes nothing good will happen. Ditch PC and speak the truth for real change. Because I am not PC, I am not stupid, I have more education than most teachers. Most teachers are average as well. I went to a teacher university and these are my observations. Classes in bulletin board making were not motivating enough for me.
That was always a problem for me. I was "held back" a bit by not having resources available for high-achieving students. Fortunately in college that was no longer a problem and I actually had to study for once.
We have a ruling class (wealthy, college educated) and we have the ruled class (undereducated, poor, and illegals). Both are the direct results of choices. You either take the necessary steps to be wealthy or you take the necessary steps to be poor. Yes, poverty is a choice and when you are uneducated and poor having children only makes you more poor and you are placing your kids on the path to the ruled class. Welcome to American capitalism. I chose to be wealthy and thus I took the steps necessary to be wealthy.
Wow, I guess you also chose to be ignorant, uninformed, and hateful.
Ah yes. Spoken like an entrenched member of the Ruled Class who believes the government owes them something: free health care, free lunches, free housing, free cell phones, free education. I get it, your life stinks. You have a GED, three children by two different men, and one of those sperm donors is in prison while the other has disappeared from your life. But those were your choices. I chose to be wealthy and successful in my field with excellent health care, a fully vested retirement package, and stock options. Those were direct results of my choices. Life is a series of choices.
I bet you never helped anyone in your life. I too have a great job and good retirement but I also help the poor and those who need help. You are a arrogant person and I hope you never need help when the time comes.
Good for you. Now imagine for a minute that tomorrow you have a strange pain, so you go to the doctor. You find you have a rare and incapacitating disease which soon makes it impossible to work, and you lose your job. You get your health insurance through your job, so once COBRA benefits expire you are without insurance, and you cannot buy an individual policy because you are ill. If you're lucky you can get yourself added to your spouse's policy, but even if you are on her policy the cost of your care may exceed the limits of the policy or recommended treatments may not be covered. And that's if she doesn't have the same bad luck you did - she could have a car crash or get sick herself and lose her job because she misses so much work caring for you. If you have to be placed in a nursing home things get even worse. Bottom line: wealthy people underestimate the role luck has in their success, mainly because they see "luck" as a good thing that happens, not as the awful things that could have happened, but didn't. In the United States today every worker is one serious illness away from financial ruin. There are no steps you can take that guarantee this won't happen to you. And that's just your health. Being laid off is out of your control, too. Believing people become poor because they were too stupid to "take steps" may make you feel good, but it has no bearing in reality.
You are so right. Well said. Wealthy people do not realize luck plays a pretty big role in their lives.
Well said, slc.
I guess your world is viewed through the new Mitt Romney rose colored glasses collection!!! If everything was just THAT SIMPLE, then we'd all be rich.
That is true. During some of my vacation months I thought to myself "there must be a way to become wealthy." Then I found the answer; raise $75,000.00 over five years and (skipping details) in 20 years I should be a millionaire. It's really simple adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, factoring in inflation, marking current trends, researching information, etc. I planned all of that while my friends played on their game systems. You have to love capitalism.
Your argument is way too simplistic. I hope you are better at managing your wealth than in making constructive comments to complex situations.
Our youngest is dyslexic, and was, unfortunately, in a "Special" Program that provided no real education. It was set at a level for youngsters who were academically challenged, and not of normal-or-above-normal intelligence. AND, we couldn't remove our child from that program without written consent of his teacher. The ONLY education received in the two years passed in that program (Until we moved out-of-District), was what I offered, in the Summer. I picked up workbooks on the child's educational level, and the next. We worked for an hour or two, each weekday morning, before our neighbors were up. Not as much as our child should have been receiving, but much better than the nothing being offered by the teacher. The teacher in the new district confirmed our assessment of our chlid's education.
I was fortunate in that I was, at that time, a stay-at-home parent. It would have been much harder, had I been a working single parent, as there is no 'summer vacation' for adults. What we, as a Society, really need, for our schools, is to put the kids on a 10-3. (Divide the calendar year into 4 pieces; each is 13 weeks. Kids go to school for 10, have three for vacation. They lose less in the shorter time-frame.) I do not understand why, in our Industrialized Society, we continue to use an Agricultural pattern in our educational system, except where needed.
60 minutes practicing skills each day makes a big difference with kids. They do need to play, but 60 minutes of thinking won't hurt them. It is better if parent reads/studies with them because it makes the child feel that studying is important. I also bought some learning games and we play those. If you want your child to do well in school, you have to be their first teacher.
Playing board games, together, is a great way to keep kids engaged. It becomes less about routine drilling - like what might happen in a formal, educational setting - and more about free-form application, "owning" of knowledge and critical thinking. So, it doesn't feel like school, it just feels like a game challenge.
Forgetting some stuff over two or three months is normal. When I was in school outside of US, the issue was simply dealt with by making it clear to the students that the first couple of weeks or so will be spent on refreshing people's memory, but after that, new material starts. If you still can't remember things, just go to the library and re-read the sections you need.
Why do poor people have kids anyway?
Low IQ translates to increased number of offspring (i.e. the lack of the minimum mental faculties to properly assess current and perceived future financial resources contrasted with one's genetic memory/low level instinct to as widely disperse one's flawed genetic material out into the gene pool).
Because they aren't educated enough to conceive of a child as an expense, and the lack of financial sense is why they're poor to begin with. We also enable them by providing subsidies because we don't want the children to suffer from their parents' poor sense. Unfortunately, the subsidies only secure a basic existence for these children – food, clothing, shelter – but not education, and so they grow up to have children they can't afford either. It's a vicious cycle, only broken by providing poor children with superior education and the skill set required for a productive career. And it had better start soon, because as they grow in numbers much faster than the highly-educated population, who is career-focused and therefore less prosperous, this proposition becomes less and less financially possible.
...because poor people are human beings, too, "?????" .
10 week vacation is to much for everybody.
And we wonder why our kids are falling further behind – if you have to spend a month or two of every school year reviewing the year before, you're behind before you can ever get ahead.
Yep. Life is all about getting ahead. Did you forget your childhood or was it just not that good.
I guess that is why we are all so backward...too many summer vacations...the school system has failed us all!!!
That's what vacation is for! To forget about school and do fun things, learn things on our own, make friends.
That's why we've lost our edge in STEM fields. We've managed over the past two – three decades due to brain drain but our mentality of "kids should have fun" allowed the rest of the world to catch up.
Look at the ethnic/nationality make up of STEM majors at our top universities. The minorities are the majority and these students will drive innovation and technological growth in their foreign countries (many will return home, a trend that's increasingly getting sharper). Brain drain in favor of the US is dying out
The TeaBag response would probably be something asinine as "STOP THESE FOREIGNERS FROM TAKING OUR STUDENT'S PLACES" at our top universities... instead we should try to see the mindset and mentality that these other nations have for education and adapt.
Cultural respect for The Teaching Profession is a big difference, as well. Kids need to be taught respect for their society and for others, as well as themselves. They need to be taught that just because something is hard, it doesn't mean it's useless and when they manage any goal in what's difficult for them, nomatter what subject or concept it is, it should be looked-upon as a big accomplishment.
But kids need free-form learning, too. They need play. Reading, designing, building and exploring may not be happening ina structured environment, like that during the school year, but it happens on Summer vacations, too. Kids need to read, build and be in awe of the vastness and power of Nature and Space. They need, both, time to dream (vacations, weekends, play time) and time to learn how they can make such dreams a reality (classroom studies and structured, Public educational programs).
Teachers must teach in ways that the information will stick with them. They need hands on activities that engaged them. They will not retain info that is just based on taking notes or memorizing stuff. My sister pays for tutoring for both of my neices during the school year and during the summer. Kids would certainly benefit from enrichment programs. As a taxpayer, I would like for my taxes to go for enrichment programs and teachers rather than prisons and prison staff. Talk about a drain on society.
I am sick and tired of excuses for everything. We are a dumb and weak society because we forgot the merits of hard work and endurance.
Baloney! I grew up within a poor household and still got a scholarship into one of the best schools in the country – on my grades, not charity or excuses.
stop blowing your horn idiot
I think it's fine to tell others you endured being poor and rose above it. Today, people want everything and want to contribute nothing. I admire hard-working and determined people.
I'm pretty certain that EVERYTHING is worse for poor kids.
I agree. Sometimes they can rise above but not everyone can.
Who cares stuff like tis happens even during the school year
Read a book. Read a newspaper. Take a walk. Play a board game. Practice writing. Practice multiplication tables. All free. Stop passing the blame and making excuses for poor parenting. Parenting is hard work. EVERY. DAY. Teach your kids to say, "please" and "thank you." Practice saying the word, "NO" at home. Enforce some rules and have some expectations.
For your children and for yourselves.
Poor parents are generally neither educated nor available enough to spend quality educational time with their children in this way. They may work two or more jobs with long hours just to put food on the table, and may not read or count so well themselves. They have children they just plain can't afford, and the taxpayers are only willing to provide enough of a subsidy to keep the children alive...but that makes the problem worse, since those children then grow up to produce more children that they can't possibly hope to properly parent. We need to either let the poor children die, or provide for them in EVERY way – including the kind of education that allows them to have real careers and a way to financially support their own children without government help.
Um, author? Do these kids have computers & internet access?? If they're rural probably not and probably they don't have a public library either. Nor do many urban kids. Sorry, we aren't all middle class. And as to why there are few "enrichment" programs? Parents are too busy trying to pay for food and shelter to pay for even warehouse-type childcare let alone middle class "enrichment" program.
Oh, they have Internet access and library facilities... the fine taxpayers like myself pay handsomely for it. Do they use these resources for their education is the question.
This is also true, "hopewellmomschoolagain". But voters must express their needs to America and support those who would rather spend money building libraries in truly, abjectly poor areas, than giving subsidies to companies that offshore jobs only to increase CEO bonuses.
If poor voters choose to waste their votes, on faux-religiously pious politicians who work to re-direct all societal wealth and power, to a small, super-wealthy minority, then such voters can't complain when their poor communities lack what they need.
America is the wealthiest country in The World. We are only suffering these inadequacies and losses because many poor and lower-middle class people, have taken to voting out of spite and a desire for revenge, rather than thoughtful contemplation of personal interests.
Ah, parenting? Notice to you liberal folks, you don’t need expensive summer schooling or elite organized classes. Spend a few minutes with your kid a day and you’ll retain that valuable information.
I think a lot of those rich people are conservatives – read the Wall Street Journal comment pages.
Unfortunately not all parents have the ability to provide much by way of educational enrichment to their children. Perhaps it was their own failure or they were raised in a home that did not encourage achievement. In any event, the cycle needs to be broken so that the kids can do better than their parents and simply blaming the parents doesn't break that cycle.
Good luck on breaking the cycle. The only sure way is to get the youngsters out of the environment they are in (where do you put them)? and of course keep the uneducated parents from making more babies. Good luck on that one.Until we come to the position that our education resources are aimed at those who can utilize an education, we will continue to read articles like this. We have been throwing money at this problem since Lyndon Johnson devised his fanciful plans and we are worse off than we were in the '60's.
Only works if you have those few minutes to spend and the knowledge to teach your children. Chances are if you're working two or three minimum-wage jobs to pay the rent, you've got neither.
DUH! Lower-income families can't allow their kids to do many things that more priveleged families can over the summer. Richie Rich is playing organized sports, attending summer camps, taking summer classes, going to the zoo, exploring the world, etc etc.
It costs nothing to take your kid to the library or a museum. Maybe if some of these parents would do the simple things (that cost nothing), 95% of this could be corrected.
True in theory. But really poor parents who work 3 jobs probably don't have time to go to the museum. Many live miles away from any museum or library, and most museums are not free.
I am not sure where you live but where I live there is NO public transportation, no libraries within miles to walk to and museums are not free even for students. You apparently are fortunate enough to live in an area that provides those services. HM, I wonder who pays for those, perhaps the taxpayers.
It does cost something to take your kid to the library or museum – it costs time. And it costs effort, if your kid isn't naturally interested in those things.
Unless you live in DC, it usually costs 30, 40 dollars or more just in admission to take a family of 4 to a museum. And that doesn`t include snacks they won`t allow you to bring from home.
Dd you notice that the free programs are poorly attended? When you have underachieving parents the kids are the same.
Lots of things to do for free – it's just not up to the "standards" of those on welfare who now expect so much more!
CNN’s Schools of Thought blog is a place for parents, educators and students to learn about and discuss what's happening in education. We're curious about what's happening before kindergarten, through college and beyond. Have a story to tell? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org