17 July 2007

Summer Brain Drain

The folks at ABC News are reporting about the effects of "Summer Brain Drain," which is the loss of knowledge and skills that may happen for school children during summer vacation...as much as 60% of what was learned in the previous school year.

Their sources, the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, reports that "brain drain during the first five years of school can hurt kids later on, in high school and college." This is especially evident in the areas of math and literacy (especially for low-income students), but I have to wonder if anyone has actually studied the loss of learning in other academic areas.

They suggest the following options to help support student learning over the summer:
  • Camps and library programs
  • Read, read, read
  • Baking and lemonade stands (for math skills)
  • Spend time outside (ostensibly with your book)
I wonder if anyone out there works with low-income families...or families that might live within cities where green spaces (let alone yards for lemonade stands)...in order to provide some ideas for how those families can keep kids' minds active over the summer. While the suggestions here to prevent brain drain aren't exactly brain surgery in terms of their ideas, I do think that there are some equity issues to be mindful of.


Anonymous said...

Libraries can be a pretty exciting place for kids in the summer - rural or urban. For one thing, they're air conditioned - a big plus for many of us that don't have it. Libraries often have reading programs and book-related entertainment throughout the summer. My little ones get very excited about our excursions there. And they're free!

Hugh O'Donnell said...

I posted on the "summer slide" with some links you might want to look at...


I think we're going to be hearing a lot more about the things we need to do to keep lower SES kids engaged during the summer. I know I'll be bringing it up to the supe and the board.

Dr Pezz said...

I wonder how seriously districts and the state look at changing our antiquated school calendar. Maybe the agricultural model once deemed necessary needs a retooling in our new age.

Hugh O'Donnell said...

I thought I knew the origin of the long summer break between school years (agricultural), but there's some surprising information in this Slate article:


The Science Goddess said...

Very interesting article! Thanks for the tip.