The National Summer Learning Association’s Research in Brief series profiles key studies about summer learning and highlights the findings in easy-to-understand language. These briefs can help inform the choices that parents, program providers and policymakers make when selecting and designing summer programs for youth.
To succeed in school and life, children and young adults need ongoing opportunities to learn and practice essential skills. This is especially true during the summer months. Many Americans have a wonderful image of summer as a carefree, happy time when “kids can be kids,” and take for granted the prospect of enriching experiences such as summer camps, time with family, and trips to museums, parks, and libraries. Unfortunately, some youth face anything but idyllic summer months. When the school doors close, many children struggle to access educational opportunities, as well as basic needs such as healthy meals and adequate adult supervision.
Summer’s always been a great time to kick back with a book. But a strong body of research shows that, without practice, students lose reading skills over the summer months and children from low-income families lose the most. With the prevalence of television, computers and other electronic distractions, how can parents, educators and librarians encourage kids to immerse their minds and imaginations in books over the summer months?
Income Affects How Kids Use Technology and Access Knowledge Neuman, Susan
Logon. Google. Bandwidth. As technology has permeated our lives, words that previously didn’t even exist are now a part of everyday life. Technology has affected everything from how we work to how we socialize, providing easy access to massive amounts of information. But has this information explosion helped kids learn?
More Than a Hunch: Kids Lose Learning Skills Over the Summer Months Cooper, Harris
A personal experience can spark a theory that, in turn, prompts important research. That’s what happened when Harris Cooper, then a professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, served on the Columbia, Missouri, school board. In the early ‘90s, the board was asked to discuss the local implications of a proposed federal cut in summer programming. Cooper, who suspected that the cutback was not a good idea, was unwilling to rubber-stamp the summer programming cut. He launched some research into summer learning, willing to follow wherever it led, and arrived at the overwhelming conclusion that his hunch was spot on. Summer learning loss is very real and has important repercussions in the lives of students, especially those with fewer financial resources.
Summer Can Set Kids on the Right—or Wrong—Course Alexander, Karl
When school doors close for the summer, what do kids face? For some, it’s a world of interesting vacations, music lessons, and library trips. For others without enriching summertime opportunities, the break can lead to serious academic consequences—and the disparity can be dramatic.
More and more children in the United States are obese—and overweight children tend to become overweight or obese adults, leading to a host of health problems. Many people blame schools, but research shows the opposite. In fact, children gain weight three times faster during the summer months, gaining as much weight during the summer as they do during the entire school year, even though the summertime is three times shorter. We spoke to Ohio State University statistician Paul von Hippel about the research, what we can learn from it, and what it means for children and society as a whole.