We all need a break once in a while. No one can argue with that. However, the long summer break can be challenging for low-income families with regards to child care and food security, as discussed in a previous post. Another downside to long summer breaks is the well-documented learning loss that occurs when children are not engaged in educational activities for long periods of time.
The good news is that this “Summer Slide” is not inevitable. By taking part in special activities, kids can have a fun and educational summer. Researchers have found one reason for the achievement gap between low- and middle-class students is a lack of access to quality summer enrichment programs among lower-income families.
Summer learning loss is cumulative, building over time so that many kids from low-income families fall further behind their peers year after year. According to the National Summer Learning Association, most students lose two months of grade level equivalency in math during the summer break.
Studies also show that while students from middle-income families make slight gains in reading skills over the break, students from low-income households lose more than two months of reading achievement. While a number of districts have turned to year-round schedules or extended school years to combat summer learning loss and meet the child care needs of working families, summer programs offer a slightly less expensive way to target educational enrichment courses to high-risk students.