The Learning Academy: Summer Learning Loss
Amanda Setlak, Ph.D., Psychologist
Summer Learning Loss is a longstanding phenomenon where kids start school in August one to two months behind where they left school in May. We notice that it becomes worse actually for spelling and math than it is for reading. When kids actually do read over the summer, they will make gains. Kids who don't, they'll lose the one to two months. Spelling and math is worse because people don't really work on that over the summer. They don't practice it. Parents don't emphasize it. So they start out one to two sometimes even more than two months behind where they left school in May.
Summer is an important time to continue learning rather than just taking a complete break from it. Kids might disagree, but I think kindergarten to seniors, they all need to stay engaged in learning, rather than taking a complete brain break.
I'm not saying don't play and have fun and enjoy your summer, but also don't have it be completely free of learning. I think thirty minutes a day is sufficient, and try to emphasize some spelling and math in there. It's just some real practice. You can get some work books, work sheets, anything is online anymore. Making it part of a routine, this is just the expectation. This is what we do. It can be fun too. It doesn't have to be, ok you've got to come in from playing and sit here and do some math.
There are activities all throughout the city. Look at library calendars, the zoo or wherever you go there is learning anywhere, so if you make it fun and incorporate it in they are going to be fine.
The Boys Town Learning Academy offers two different services, and we are in operation through the academic year and through summer so those two services are always available. The two services are skills training, so we really focus on those foundational skills getting kids caught up with reading, writing, spelling and math. The other service is tutoring and that's more standard. Bring in your homework. Bring in what you're working on or maybe what you struggled with last year. Our sessions are an hour long so kids can come two to three times a week and I think that would be sufficient.
Children experience learning losses when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer. Amanda Setlak, Ph.D., psychologist with the Boys Town Center for Behavioral Health, explains how parents can help their child learn during the summer months and the services The Learning Academy offers.