Preventing summer learning loss

15286938097_054984a3b5_zEvery school-age child knows the feeling – returning to school and realizing she forgot some of what she learned before summer break. That realization is called summer learning loss and it’s not just in a student’s head.

“I notice they need more help with their homework because they’ve forgotten things,” said Melanie Speight, a Champions site director at Ventura Park Elementary School in Portland, Oregon. “Children have to work harder and teachers have to reteach instead of moving forward.

Summer learning loss is a child’s decline in academic skills and knowledge during the summer months. This loss commonly happens when children aren’t engaged in academic activities during summer break. The average child loses about two months of reading and math skills during summer and some who lose that ground never catch up to their peers, according to RAND Education, a global policy think tank. Parents feel especially challenged in the summer to ensure their children have productive things to do.

“Children need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills, such as math and reading, in order to succeed in school,” said Meg Davis, manager of curriculum development for Knowledge Universe. “But it’s also important for children to have fun and enjoy the break from school-year routines. Finding a balance between summer fun and summer learning isn’t difficult: it’s about keeping children challenged academically while also engaging them in activities they may not participate in during the school year.”

Knowledge Universe has several programs designed for preschool through school-age children that tackle summer learning loss through building skills in areas like math, literacy, and science. The programs also include a fitness component to make sure children stay active during the summer (and can enjoy the good weather). Each age-appropriate program features curriculum designed to ensure children continue learning while maintaining the fun and lighter feel of a summer program: something parents may not initially understand when told about “summer programs.”

“Many parents hear ‘summer program’ and think it’s simply a camp designed to keep children occupied during the day, when it’s really an extension of our regular program,” said Meg. “It’s the best of both worlds: learning and fun with a summer twist.”

Melanie said to think about the programs each center and site offers during the school year. Those learning programs don’t stop when summer starts: They just take on fun summer themes.

More information about preventing summer learning loss and the KU summer programs are available on KLCentral, and much of that information is great to share with parents.

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