While some schools have moved to year-round schedules, most still adhere to the traditional nine-month calendar, with shorter vacations (winter and spring breaks) and a lengthy Long vacation (summer breaks).
These vacations offer much-needed relief from school, but even spring break, which is typically only a week, can have a measurable negative impact on a child’s mental acuity. At 10-12 weeks, summer vacation can result in a substantial brain drain that can significantly impact your child’s education.
Learning changes the brain. Every time you learn something, there are nerve cells that are making connections and they can strengthen or weaken those connections, So when you’re learning, you’re strengthening those connections in the brain at a microscopic level. But if you’re not using that information, over time those connections will weaken.
It’s usually called “the summer brain drain” because, during those long, hot months away from school, kids supposedly forget a lot of what they had learned in class.
Read also: How To Engage Kids On Vacation.
Why You Must Be Concern
Research has shown that over the course of summer vacation, students lose months of math skills from the previous year’s learning.
Most students — regardless of family income or background — lose 2 to 2 1/2 months of the math computational skills that they learned during the school year.
Students from low-income homes lose two to three months in reading skills learned in the previous school year.
Middle-class students make slight gains in reading achievement as measured on standardized tests.
Those findings suggest the obvious: that children lose math ability when they don’t use it and that middle-class students read more than those from poor families because they have more books at home. (The research looked at middle-class kids, but similar results would presumably be found in children from high-income families.)
It might seem as if students who lose two months of math skills need two months more to catch up. But educators say it’s not that simple.
When it comes to reading, experts say, some kids make progress not only because they read more.
Basically, even poor kids grow reading skills at about the same rate as middle-class kids, when they are in school. Two-thirds of the achievement gap occurs during the summers, not during the school year.
So for those parents who tell themselves that kids don’t need to do anything academic during summer because, after all, they didn’t themselves when they were young, and they turned out just fine, experts have this reply: Think again.
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Coming up next: Preventing brain drain during vacation.
In second part of this series, I present you with different strategies for preventing brain drain of your kids during vacation,
You will be surprised to see how this strategy works and excited by what that means for your kids’ improved performance.
Continue on to the next lesson here: