School’s out, but that doesn’t mean your kids should stop learning. Researchers have found that kids can lose one to two months of reading and math skills over the summer.
“All young people experience loss of math and reading skills when they do not have opportunities to apply or build these skills,” said Nazaneen Khalilnaji-Otto, the Campaign Director for Summer Matters. “Over 100 years of research has shown that students typically score lower on standardized tests at the end of summer vacation than they do on the same tests at the beginning of the summer.”
Summer Matters is excited to announce the programs participating in our 2017 Summer Matters Site Visits. This is a chance to showcase quality summer programs across the state. The site visits will include an introduction to the program and opportunities to see the staff and youth in action.
The research is clear that summer and after-school programs provide numerous benefits to students. According to a study by John Hopkins University, during the summer months children living in low-resource communities who are not engaged in activities tend to fall into a “summer slide,” while their peers from more economically advantaged communities build skills that will help them succeed. Students without positive summer activities lose nearly two months of competency in reading, and these losses are cumulative. By ninth grade, summer learning loss accounts for nearly two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading. Also well-documented are the negative impacts on health: youth without summer learning programs gain weight at a higher rate than during the school year. This is particularly true for children and youth of color and those who are already overweight.
Napa Valley is recognized the world over for its award-winning wines, but little is known about its low-income, mostly agricultural, communities where the need is great; especially for year-round student academic support and enrichment opportunities. To address this need, Aim High – a nonprofit offering free summer learning programs to middle schools in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than thirty years – opened a campus at Silverado Middle School in rural Napa, a community where only 15 percent of third grade English Language Learners read at or above grade level. The Napa program currently serves 120 students, but has a waiting list of at least 60 children.
I propose that we retool the old summer school model into summer enrichment camps that focus on 21st century skills. These summer programs would employ teachers who have expertise in applying instructional strategies that foster critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills in our students. They would work in partnership with nonprofit and other youth-serving organizations, public libraries and others to provide full-day learning and enrichment camps.